What Is Cervical Cancer?
Nearly 13,000 women in the U.S. will develop invasive cervical cancer this year, and 4,100 women will die from it. But cervical cancer is also one of the most detectable and treatable cancers. Early detection of cervical cancer allows for the best chance of a full recovery and the greatest availability of treatment options.
The cervix is an area of tissue surrounding the opening of the uterus. A Pap smear is a test used to detect any abnormal cells that might develop into cancer of the cervix. The test can also show evidence of infection or other abnormal cervical cells. Since its introduction in the 1940s, the Pap smear has become the most successful cancer-screening tool ever invented, reducing cervical cancer deaths among women by 70 percent.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' Cervical Cancer Prevention Program
Making certain that our female members have access to regular cervical cancer screenings is one of our highest priorities. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, we follow screening guidelines that recommend Pap smears no later than age 19, and we cover the Pap smear test as a standard part of an annual pelvic exam. Women should continue receiving Pap tests every 1 to 3 years as recommended by their physician. To help increase member and physician awareness of, and participation in, getting Pap smears, members who are overdue for their regular test may receive a reminder letter or postcard from their doctor. We also send members and physicians our cervical cancer screening guidelines and provide them with educational materials both in print and online.