Task force revises guidelines for cervical cancer screening
The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently updated its recommendations for cervical cancer screening among women aged 21 to 65.
The guidelines state that women younger than 21 don't necessarily need regular screening for cervical cancer, as research has shown that the preventative efforts for women in this age group do not lower the risk of carcinoma or death.
Women aged 21 to 65 are encouraged to get screened for cervical cancer every three years with a Pap smear. After the age of 30 and when a Pap is combined with a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), women can extend screening to once every five years, according to the USPSTF.
"This is good news for women because evidence shows that an annual Pap smear is not necessary to prevent deaths from cervical cancer," said Virginia Moyer, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at Baylor Medical College and USPSTF chair. "Screening every three years starting at age 21 saves the same number of lives as annual screening, but with half the number of colposcopies and fewer false-positive tests."
HPV screening in women younger than 30 may not be necessary, as the USPSTF reports that infections in females in their teens and 20s are quite common and typically clear up without treatment.
While these guidelines may be a relief to women who don't look forward to their annual Paps, they do not indicate that ladies should skip their regular checkups, gynecological or otherwise.
Sexually active women should be sure to see their healthcare provider annually, as well as practice safer sex by using condoms during intercourse and seeking regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases.