The Doctors Next Door

New Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

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Looks like the scientific community is saving us all manner of hassle and discomfort lately, ladies.  Here are the new guidelines for pap smears just issued by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).

ACOG now recommends getting your first pap smear at age 21. Prior recommendations stated that women should have their first pap smear 3 years after starting sexual activity. Since studies have shown that cervical cancer affects one in a million women under the age of 21 there just isn't enough value for recommending pap smears in this age group.

ACOG also recommends:

  •  Screening women with Pap testing between the ages of 21 and 30 every two years instead of annually
  • Screening women 30 and older who have had three consecutive normal Pap test results every three years instead of annually
  • Screening can be stopped in women who are 65 to 70 and have had three or more consecutive normal test results and no abnormal test results in the past 10 years.
  • Women who have had the HPV vaccine should follow the same screening guidelines as unvaccinated women.

You also do not need a pap smear if you've had a hysterectomy. However, certain women, like those with HIV, a weakened immune system or exposure to DES should continue to be screened every year.

Unlike the new breast cancer screening guidelines, these recommendations seem to be sparking little if any controversy. So...ENJOY!


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