Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening

Our Public Health Clinics are a provider of Every Women Counts (EWC), a state-sponsored program that provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, and Pap tests to California's underserved women. The mission of the EWC is to save lives by preventing and reducing the devastating effects of cancer for Californians through education, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and integrated preventive services, with special emphasis on the underserved.

For more information visit the Every Woman Counts website.

Cervical Cancer Screening... For Women ages 21-65. Get informed. Get Screened.

Cervical Cancer
Prevention, Screening & Vaccination

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the cervix, the lowermost part of the uterus. Anyone with a cervix is at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in people over the age of 30.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

The main cause of cervical cancer is infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed from one person to another during any kind of sexual contact, including: skin-to-skin contact, during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, passed from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact, during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In 2018, there were about 43 million HPV infections in the US, many among people in their late teens and early 20s. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. Yet, when HPV infections persist, they might lead to abnormal Pap tests, genital warts, or cancer.

There are many different strains of HPV, which are classified into two main groups: "high risk" and "low risk".

  • "High-risk" HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and throat.
  • "Low-risk" HPV can cause genital and anal warts.

Preventing HPV & Cervical Cancer

When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life. Since the main cause of cervical cancer is due to an infection with HPV, preventing HPV is the best way to prevent cervical cancer.

HPV can be prevented by:

  • Use condoms every time you have any kind of sex.
  • Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted Infections every 3 months, especially if you have multiple sex partners.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get an HPV vaccine.

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The HPV Vaccine is available via minor consent for teens 12 years and older.

  • HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given starting at age 9.
    1. If vaccination is started before age 15, a two-dose schedule is recommended, with the doses given 6 to 12 months apart. For people who start the series after their 15th birthday, the vaccine is given in a series of three doses.
  • HPV vaccine is also recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.

Screening for Cervical Cancer

There are two types of tests that can help screen for cervical cancer – the HPV test and the pap test. Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic.

  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause cell changes on the cervix.
  • The Pap test (or Pap) looks for precancers -cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

When to Get Screened: If you are 21 to 29 years old

You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.

If You Are 30 to 65 Years Old

Talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you:

  • An HPV test only. This is called primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
  • An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
  • A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.

If you have Medi-Cal, low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost screening test through the Public Health Clinic. Family PACT and Every Woman Counts (EWC) programs are available to qualifying individuals. Minors 12 and older can consent to receive the HPV vaccine without parent or guardian involvement. Please call the Public Health Clinic for more information:

  • Chico Public Health Clinic: 530-552-3959
  • Oroville Public Health Clinic: 530-552-3918