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paps every 3 years ?what do u think

Posted by on Nov. 20, 2009 at 5:29 PM
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Pap smears may no longer be called "annuals" if doctors follow new cervical cancer screening recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

 
A new recommendation from experts suggests women need fewer pap smears.

The group announced today that women should start getting cervical cancer screenings at age 21 instead of 18, and that women could wait longer between the screenings -- regardless of when a woman starts having sex.

Women in their 20s with normal Pap smear results now should get screenings every two years instead of every year, and women in their 30s can wait three years between screenings, according to the new ACOG guidelines.

After a week of uproar over the controversial recommendations for less mammogram screenings for women, doctors say they will have to wait and see how the public reacts to the new pap smear guidelines.

"This is not a radical change in screening practices. This is something that's been coming gradually since the 1980s," said Dr. Alan G. Waxman, who helped write the new guidelines.

Some doctors hailed the decision as a way to reduce a host of problems caused by excessive screening; yet, a few others worried it might trigger more women to neglect annual checkups with gynecologists.

Waxman said the move toward fewer screenings will reduce unnecessary treatment in young women and protect them from future pregnancy complications.

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Changing Recommendations on Pap Smears

However, Friday's changes aren't the first to affect cervical cancer screenings. Over the years, doctors have scaled back on cervical cancer screening schedules after more research proved less frequent screenings were effective.

"It is about time this occurred," said Dr. Mark Einstein of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. "Oftentimes, young women are put into a 'high-risk' category, clinically, because they have a [positive] Pap test that is essentially just a sign of an HPV infection -- but it is not clinically relevant. This leads to anxiety and over-testing." Dr. Joanna Cain of Brown University agreed, and argued that the HPV vaccine will further decrease the transmission of the virus that is responsible for up to 70 percent of cancers in the coming years.

Below is a timeline of changes to cervical cancer screenings over the years, according to Waxman:

1957 -- The American Cancer Society runs a nationwide campaign for women to get a Pap test every year.

1976 -- Canadian health leaders examine data and recommend a woman get a Pap smear every two years, after a woman has three consecutive normal Pap smears.

1980 -- The American Cancer Society follows Canadian guidelines recommending a woman get a Pap smear every two years after three consecutive normal Pap smears.

1988 -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends starting screening at 18, or with the onset of sexual activity and getting a Pap test every year. But after three negative Pap tests, women should be screened less often.

2003 -- ACOG guidelines shift from recommending the first Pap smear at age 18 or the onset of intercourse to age 21 or three years after the onset of intercourse.

2008 -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines shift to recommend adolescents who have a minor abnormality on a Pap test wait to get biopsies and a diagnostic test called a colposcopy.

Dr. Donnica Moore, president of Sapphire Women's Health Group and an obstetrician-gynecologist by training, worried that the new guidelines might keep women who've had a normal Pap smear, or no symptoms, away from the doctor.

"Women may now assume -- incorrectly -- that if they only need a Pap smear every two or three years, then they only need to see their gynecologist every two to three years, and for many of these women, their gynecologist is their primary care physician," said Moore. "Thus, they will not be getting a routine physical, breast exam, blood pressure measurement, and sexually-transmitted infection testing."

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/HealthyLiving/guidelines-ditch-annual-pap-smears/story?id=9131632

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by on Nov. 20, 2009 at 5:29 PM
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MomX04
by on Nov. 21, 2009 at 10:06 AM

I'm at high risk for cervical cancer from many years ago.  I get mine every year whether it is covered by insurance or not.  The new rules will not change my mind on that.  I will encourage my daughter to get checked the same way I do.

lalasha
by on Nov. 21, 2009 at 2:09 PM

I think that is is a poor idea. Cervical cancer is invasive and fast growing and hpv is very very easily picked up so as women we need to protect ourselves and get checked for that if nothing else yearly.

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