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Rethinking The Yearly Test

Rethinking The Yearly Test

Call it a case of bad timing, but the surprsing new recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) regarding pap smears for women came out just one week after the controversial recommendations from a government task force about women receiving mammograms later in life.  It has been widely accepted that women should receive pap smears, which test for cervical cancer, once a year and they should begin within three years after being sexually active (or at the age of 21).  The new recommendations from the ACOG state that women should begin getting the pap test at age 21 (no earlier) and that they should not necessarily receive the test once a year.

An article from Web MD outlines the latest recommendations from the ACOG.  After taking the latest medical data into account the ACOG states that women between the ages of 21 and 30 should only receive the pap test once every 2 years and women 30 and older with 3 consecutive normal pap tests should have the test done every 3 years.  Additionally, women aged 65 to 70 can stop taking the test all together if they have had 3 consecutive normal tests and no abnormal tests within 10 years.  The ACOG also states there should be increased screening rates in women with risk factors for cervical cancer.

ACOG's case against teenagers receiving pap tests is that it is very rare for adolescents to have cervical cancer and in many cases the HPV infection (which has been linked to cervical cancer) clears up on its own naturally in younger patients.  Ob-Gyn Mark H. Einstein reports to Web MD that he agrees with the ACOG's new guidelines.  He says, "The vast majority of abnormalities identified through early screening are clinically irrelevant manifestations of (transient)HPV infection.  Early screening stigmatizes young women and subjects them to extra testing and unnecessary treatment."

The ACOG still recommends women have annual gynecological exams if their doctors think it is necessary.  But many argue that with the new recommendations of spacing out pap tests to every 2 or 3 years it will cause a lot of women to stop going in for an annual exam and possibly missing other problems that arise. 

What do you think of the new recommendations from the ACOG regarding pap tests?

Do you think after receiving these recommendations some women will be more likely to forgo an annual trip to their gynecologist?

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  • bullfrog8 By bullfrog8
    11.21.09  

    Makes me wonder if we were subjected to more tests over the years to pad the medical paychecks, or is the changing of guidelines part of the new rationing of medical care to save costs. Hard to accept things at face value anymore.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly
    11.21.09  

    It seems that women's health care is so confusing. Is this new guideline due to an insurance lobby plan? Seems to me that this may be where this is coming from! It's just so hard to believe anyone and any recommendations any more. I think we all need to be pro-active in our health care and do what we think is right for ourselves.

  • elysejoy1 By elysejoy1
    11.21.09  

    I'm not sure it's such a great idea. Women's health has always taken the back seat to men's health. I hope this isn't another example of that.

  • loli1707 By loli1707
    11.21.09  

    hmmm i think they should get tested after they become sexually active , unfortunatly its at a younger age & with more partners .. they dont really have any idea what they are doing to their bodies or teh damaged it can cause ..so i think screening is important esp with all teh gross things u can get sleeping around ...and in this day & age there seems to be no mommies that take enough time to really raise their kids, so the results are obvious! ps. I concure whole heartedly with msfriendly !

  • goal130 By goal130
    11.21.09  

    I do not care what they recommend they are incorrect. I had a best friend who was 19 years old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. This was in 1985. If she had followed the new recommendations - waiting for three years after becoming sexually active (she started at age 18) she might have died. She had to have a major surgery to prevent the spread of the cancer.

  • uniqueusername By uniqueusername
    11.21.09  

    I think not having the Pap tests every year is ridiculous.. I didnt go like I should have in my younger years and if I had I might have avoided some problems.. I go every year now because of the high risk of cancer in my family.. This could potentially save my life.. Not going according to these guidelines is reckless and potentially harmful to women!

  • L_camille By L_camille
    11.21.09  

    This is just my opinion, but I really think it is very important for women to get paps every year..not just a pap, but full lab work also..you never know when things can go wrong in your body. Once of year is just a little peace of mind that everything is ok. Probably starting when you become sexually active..which these days is way too young.

  • Alyssarae92293 By Alyssarae92293
    11.22.09  

    PAP TESTS ARE NERY IMPORTANT AS WOMEN WE NEED TO STAY HEALTHY AND GET CHECKED OUT

  • momagarry By momagarry
    11.22.09  

    This is crazy I am still getting my pap every year.

  • bluesubaru By bluesubaru
    11.22.09  

    y a i decided to leave mine untill next year,but i think it is a good idea to go t o the dr if anything seems a little off or wtong. makes me wnder if it was the fda who thought this up, or the drs?

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