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?

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Sparkleandshine by Sparkleandshine | Chandler, AZ
Nov 24, 2009

Hmmmm I think that the recomendation would be good for people that aren't sexually active or that have only 1 partner (between tests). Paps do more than just look for cancer they can also detect STDs. You know that people will only go in for physicals acoording to these recs. and things can easily slip by. Of course because of these new guidelines insurance will only be willing to pay by them and you will have to pay out of pocket if you want more services.

frogqueen75 by frogqueen75 | Berea, KY
Nov 24, 2009

I think this is ridiculous. The insurance companies are going to see this & say "We're NOT going to pay for annual paps & we're NOT going to pay for paps before age 21." So we will be stuck paying for necessary medical tests. I had my 1st pelvic exam in the ER at age 12 when I had an ovarian cyst rupture-I WAS NOT sexually active! However, I had started my menstrual cycles & had horrible problems w/them, and continued to do so over the next several years. My gyn started complete pelvic workups, including paps, on me before I was sexually active at around age 15 to try to determine why I kept having problems with cysts rupturing & abnormal bleeding.

lserfling by lserfling | Kitty Hawk, NC
Nov 24, 2009

I think that if the American Cancer Society signs off on these recommendations, then we should pay attention to them.

bkost3 by bkost3 | Harlowton, MT
Nov 23, 2009

I guess for me, the broad recommendations are just that -- broad. Individually I think it's important to evaluate your health risks and make decisions on where to go from there, but changing the guidelines completely? Makes me a little skeptical. After a cervical cancer scare for me, I will always get a yearly checkup, especially since I am in the baby bearing ages and my body is changing constantly. I think this recent development is just making things more confusing for women who are just trying to do their best for their health.

Acone85 by Acone85 | Irvine, CA
Nov 23, 2009

I think that healthy women that do not have multiple partners do not need to go every year for a pap smear. Ultimately your health care should be your own decision and if you feel more comfortable going every year then you should, but if you feel better going every year then you should be able to do that too. I am a healthy married woman in my late 20s who has never had anything wrong down there and I have no history of those types of problems in my family. I really only end up going to get another birth control prescription.

jlindseyc by jlindseyc | LEXINGTON, KY
Nov 23, 2009

I would be ok with getting a Pap everyother year as long as I still got to see my Dr. at least once a year.

tsoko22 by tsoko22 | GREENFILD TWP, PA
Nov 22, 2009

I think people will still want the test because of the fear of cancer.

bluesubaru by bluesubaru | FAIRMONT, WV
Nov 22, 2009

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?

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Nov 22, 2009

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

Alyssarae92293 by Alyssarae92293 | BOYNTON BEACH, FL
Nov 22, 2009


L_camille by L_camille | INGLESIDE, TX
Nov 21, 2009

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 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.

uniqueusername by uniqueusername | Pittsburg, KS
Nov 21, 2009

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!

goal130 by goal130 | Cahokia, IL
Nov 21, 2009

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.

loli1707 by loli1707 | BONITA, CA
Nov 21, 2009

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 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 !

elysejoy1 by elysejoy1 | DRACUT, MA
Nov 21, 2009

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.