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Benefits and Limitations

No screening test is perfect. Even under the best conditions, there are some cases where cervical cancer screening results may indicate a cervical abnormality when there are no abnormal cells (false-positive) or the test results may be normal when there are pre-cancerous cells or cervical cancer present (false-negative).

Screening is not effective in younger women. In women under age 25, most of the cervical abnormalities identified through screening usually resolve on their own within about 2 years. But if screened, this would result in unnecessary follow-up/ treatment, which can lead to unnecessary anxiety and distress, or long-term consequences for future pregnancy (pre-term birth or low birth weight).

If you have any symptoms of cervical cancer, please talk to your health care provider. It is important to monitor your health and be aware of any unusual changes – even if you recently had a normal cervical cancer screening.

Symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (such as bleeding in between periods, bleeding during/after sex or after menopause),
  • Abnormal or persistent vaginal discharge,
  • Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse.

SOURCE: Benefits and Limitations ( )
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