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Important Facts for Cervical Cancer Screening (Pap)


The proportion of women 18 years or older who reported having a Pap test in the last three years.


The proportion of women 18 years or older who reported having a Pap test in the last three years.


The total number of female survey respondents aged 18 or older excluding those who responded "don't know" or "refused" to the numerator question.

Data Interpretation Issues

To reduce bias and more accurately represent population data, the BRFSS has changed survey methodology. In 2010, it began conducting surveys by cellular phone in addition to landline phones. It also adopted "iterative proportional fitting" (raking) as its weighting method. More details about these changes can be found at: [].

Why Is This Important?

Cervical cancer is one of the most curable cancers if detected early through routine screening. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical cancer. Women who have had an HPV vaccine still need to have routine Pap smears because the vaccine does not fully protect against all the strains of the virus and other risk factors that can cause cervical cancer. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact. Any woman who is sexually active is at risk for developing cervical cancer. Other risk factors include giving birth to many children, having sexual relations at an early age, having multiple sex partners or partners with many other partners, cigarette smoking, and use of oral contraceptives. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends cervical cancer screening (Pap smear) every 3 years for women 21 to 65 years old. For women 30 to 65 years old, Pap smears may be conducted every 5 years in conjunction with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing.

Healthy People Objective C-15:

Increase the proportion of women who receive a cervical cancer screening based on the most recent guidelines
U.S. Target: 93.0 percent
State Target: currently being revised

How Are We Doing?

Between 1991 and 2010, the percentage of Utah women aged 18 or older who reported receiving a Pap test within the last three years decreased from 88.2 percent to 74.0 percent (old methodology, age-adjusted rates). To reduce bias and more accurately represent population data, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) has changed survey methodology in 2010. It began conducting surveys by cellular phone in addition to landline phones. It also adopted "iterative proportional fitting" (raking) as its weighting method. Based on this methodology, Utah's 2016 rate was 66.7 percent (age-adjusted rate). All additional indicator views are based on the new methodology. For combined years 2014 and 2016, San Juan (54.2%), Central Utah (57.3%), Southeast Utah (59.5%), TriCounty (62.4%), and Utah County (64.9%) local health districts reported significantly lower cervical cancer screening rates when compared to the state (68.3%). After dividing the health districts into Utah Small Areas, the prevalence of Pap tests for combined years 2014 and 2016 ranged from a high of 83.3 percent in North Salt Lake to a low of 29.2 percent in Daybreak. There were no significant differences in cervical cancer screening rates in 2016 among Hispanic and non-Hispanic ethnic groups. In 2016, and when looking at the highest level of education completed for women 25+, college graduates (75.6%) were significantly more likely to have received a Pap test than those with a high school diploma (67.8%) or less (63.1%). Also in 2016, women in households with lower annual incomes were significantly less likely to have had a Pap test within the past 3 years (61.0 percent for incomes less than $25,000) than women with higher incomes (73.0 percent for annual incomes of $75,000 or more). For women of screening age in 2016, younger women aged 18-34 reported significantly lower rates (61.6 percent) when compared to older women (ages 35-49, 79.1 percent; ages 50-64, 76.0 percent).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Nationally, the percentage of women aged 18 or older who reported receiving a Pap test in the past three years decreased from 88.6 percent in 1991 to 80.6 percent in 2010. Since then, and with the new BRFSS methods, national Pap test screening rates have continued to decline (83.0 percent in 2010 and 74.9 percent in 2014). Utah screening rates are also on a downward trend and have consistently been lower than national rates in the past decade. Using the new BRFSS methodology, 69.5 percent of Utah women aged 18 or older reported receiving a Pap test in 2014.

What Is Being Done?

The Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) provides free to low cost Pap tests and pelvic exams to women who meet age and income guidelines. Eligible women with abnormal screening exams are offered diagnostic evaluation by participating providers. In addition, the UCCP provides education about the need for early detection and the availability of screening services, collects outcome data, and disseminates information about cervical cancer. The Utah Department of Health also initiated the Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN), a statewide partnership whose goal is to reduce the burden of cancer. The mission of the UCAN is to lower cancer incidence and mortality in Utah through collaborative efforts directed toward cancer prevention and control. As a result of this planning process, objectives and strategies have been developed by community partners regarding the early detection of cervical, testicular, prostate, skin, breast, and colorectal cancers as well as the promotion of physical activity, healthy eating habits, and smoking cessation.

Health Program Information

In 1976, the Utah Department of Health received a cervical cancer grant from the National Cancer Institute. In 1980, the Utah Department of Health began providing clinical breast exams and Pap tests on a sliding fee scale. In 1993, state funding was appropriated for mammography. In that same year, the Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) first received a capacity building grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct breast and cervical cancer screening in Utah. A comprehensive grant was awarded to the program in 1994 to continue breast and cervical cancer screening. Since 1994, the UCCP and partners, including local health departments, mammography facilities, pathology laboratories, and private providers, have worked together to ensure the appropriate and timely provision of clinical services. The UCCP continues to receive funding from the CDC for breast and cervical cancer screening. Additionally, the UCCP receives funding to implement comprehensive cancer control strategies that were identified by the Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) statewide partnership.
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 21 November 2019 12:05:16 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:03:27 MDT