Rethinking The Yearly Test

   By drodriguez  Nov 21, 2009

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?

Make a Comment

blueeyes1 by blueeyes1 | Topeka, KS
Dec 25, 2009

My thoughts are that the insurance companies are behind these studies... pushing for more and more limits on what they will or won't cover! For years,women have been having tests on a yearly basis such as Pap and Mammograms and now all of a sudden we are being told "no, you don't need these like we thought you did." Not for me... bring on the tests! A relative small amount of discomfort to help ensure a longer life - that's the plan for me. I am a breast cancer survivor of 5 golden years now thanks in part to my first mammogram at the age of 40. I shudder to think when my life would have ended if I had followed the new guidelines being spouted now instead of those we grew up with.

ksumm77 by ksumm77 | Middletown, OH
Dec 24, 2009

My family dr didn't say anything to me about this, just scheduled an appointment again for this test. That would be great if it wasn't needed yearly!!!

BadgerBride by BadgerBride | Champaign , IL
Dec 22, 2009

I'm a little leary of all of these reports coming out lately. Why do they all focus on women's health and reducing the amount of tests we need. What about men's health? It seems like there is a push to reduce the number of tests or screenings women need right before healthcare is passed. It makes me nervous that I won't get the kind of care I need in the future and my family has a high risk of cancer. Scary if you ask me.

AimeeAken by AimeeAken | Omaha, NE
Dec 03, 2009

I think it is wise to still receive one once a year. My OBGYN does it, even though the family doctor said "Hey, did you know you do not have to". I think it varies from doc to doc but to be safe I would think it is a good idea to keep with it. Some want you to have check ups every 6 mos with the pap once a year, but my doctor cut me down to only once a year check ups which is fine by me. :)

lizmarie by lizmarie | attica, KS
Nov 30, 2009

I work in the medical field & believe they should be done yearly. Ive seen too many regret not kaving it done on a regular basis. I frequently wonder if this has anything to do with the goverment health care proposal, and cut on medical expences.

countrycouponclipper by countrycouponclipper | Supply, NC
Nov 29, 2009

I wont chance it! Its like they are tring to weed out the women race!

whslibrarian by whslibrarian | Chesapeake, VA
Nov 29, 2009

WHy take a chance that they will say in a year that you should have them yearly due to the increase in cancer cases? It is a not worth the risk.

Gott2beme by Gott2beme | Rockford, OH
Nov 28, 2009

I think the decision is for the woman to make. Makes me wonder if they really know what they are talking about.

rhonda145271 by rhonda145271 | prattsburgh, NY
Nov 26, 2009

I have had cervicle cancer about 11 years ago. Lucky for me I had 13 biopsy's and that took care of that so far. So when I took my daughter to the doctors they suggested she come more often. I recommended she go every year no matter what. Even though mine have beeen normal, I will still go every year. I say women need this test.

idahospud by idahospud | haines, AK
Nov 26, 2009

I have had anual pap tests as recomended.If i had not,I believe,my cancer would not have been caught in time.I am 100% cancer free 16 years later.

kaykoa by kaykoa | FORT WORTH, TX
Nov 26, 2009

i think it is up to every womens decesion what ever she feels is the right decesion

umapat by umapat | Newburgh, NY
Nov 26, 2009

I personally think that this decision is a womam's choice. She should know her own body. Who should be able to tell me I shouldn't have this yearly? Is this another ploy so the insurance companies do not have to pay? I think if woman do not have the option of having this test done yearly and it being paid by their insurance, they will alos not go in for a yealy gynelogical exam either nor will they go for their yeraly mamograms..........

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
Nov 25, 2009

Instead of taking away from women's health care, the ACOG should be adding recommendations. In fact, women should be demanding more. There is a simple blood test for detecting ovarian cancer. It has been around for years, and yet rarely does a doctor suggest it. It is never part of the usual yearly blood work and it should be. If this is typical as to where health care is going, we are in trouble!

Lusadi by Lusadi | Wasilla, AK
Nov 25, 2009

I agree that a yearly pap test should be part of a full physical with blood work for women yearly. At the very least, this should be done every other year.

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
Nov 24, 2009

I think that the recommendation for the ACOG is a bad idea. I think that women need to continue the routine as it is currently in place. We need early diagnosis to be able to detect a problem so that the problem can be reverse or prevented.