GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging women across the state to be screened for cervical cancer in the new year.

Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, said a vast majority of cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and the virus might not show any symptoms.

She says that in most cases the body’s immune system will clear HPV, but the people who can’t will go on to develop cervical cancer. That’s why she said screenings and early prevention are so important.

“We have an incredible vaccine against the HPV virus that can prevent you from ever being infected with the certain strains that can cause cancer,” Bagdasarian said. “The second type of tool we have is early screening and detection, so that you can get early treatment if you do start to show signs of cervical cancer.”

She said it is recommended to get a pap smear to screen for HPV at the age of 21 and then again every three years.

“After the age of 30, there are a few different options. You can either continue on with a pap smear every three years or you can get screened for the virus … every five years or have both done together,” she said. “There are a variety of options.”

While most insurance plans include cervical cancer screenings, MDHHS said there are programs for women who can receive free screenings, like the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program. For more information about that program, which also helps low-income women get screenings for breast cancer, go to michigan.gov.