Cervical Cancer: Risks for Older Adults and Best Practices

Cancer of the cervix, or cervical cancer, was once listed as one of the most common causes of cancer death among women. In the last few decades, however, the death rate has decreased considerably thanks to the development of the Pap test – recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65, every three years.

A majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Two particular types, HPV-16 and HPV-18, make up 70% of cervical cancers worldwide.

A Persistent Risk

Although the risk of developing cervical cancer is greatest during middle age, the threat is still considerable once women reach 65 years of age. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 15% of cervical cancer cases are found past the normal age range. One reason for this is that some women begin opting out of pap tests (among other screenings) as they get older, thinking that there is no longer a discernable risk. As mentioned, there is indeed a risk, and what’s more, past the age of 65, cervical cancer becomes harder to treat. One study showed that cervical cancer patients over the age 70 had 1.6 times greater chance of death than those under 70, even with the same conditions.


The Importance of Screening and Best Practices

The key to decreasing risk of finding cervical cancer later in life is, as many studies seem to indicate, testing. The American Cancer Society reports that cancer occurred far less in women who received regular tests before the age of 65. Of course, when it comes to any type of cancer screening for older adults, nothing is black and white – and cervical cancer is certainly no exception. That being said, there are some best practices that older women can follow in regard to cervical cancer screening. Here are a few:

  • If you are younger than 65 and have not had a screening done within the last five years (and have not had a hysterectomy), ask your doctor about getting a screening.
  • If you are older than 65 and have not had a hysterectomy, discuss your risk for cervical cancer, as well as the pros and cons of screening.
  • Ensure that health care staff and physicians check your health records thoroughly before they make the decision on whether screening should stop.
  • If you have no recent history of pap tests, talk to your physician or health care professionals about scheduling a test.


The topic of cervical cancer can be scary for many aging adults, especially if they haven’t kept up on pap tests – but the sooner information is gathered, the sooner a plan of action can be made. Encourage your aging loved ones to consult their physician/health care team to find out the best approach for screening and/or treatment.


Comfort Keepers® Can Help

The professional care team at Comfort Keepers® can help promote healthy and independent living for your aging loved ones. Plans of care can include everything from mobility assistance to companionship, but caregivers can also provide transportation to and from scheduled medical appointments. So if your loved ones need to visit a physician to get tested or discuss cervical cancer, our caregivers will get them there safely and on time. To learn more about Comfort Keepers services, contact your local office today.






Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Some Older Women Are Not Getting Recommended Cervical Cancer Screenings.” Web. 2017.

American Cancer Society. “What Are the Key Statistics About Cervical Cancer?” Web. 2017.

HealingWell.com. “Elderly Women with Cervical Cancer Face Tough Battle.” Web. 2015.

National Institutes of Health. “Cervical Cancer.” Web. 2017.






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