It’s been a very, very interesting few weeks in the US regarding cancer screening. As I mentioned before, there were revisions from the highest-level agency Task Force that mammograms should be done less often for certain groups. I also mentioned how PSA tests are under a lot of scrutiny as well. Now, last week were publish new guidelines pushing back the age for cervical cancer tests. The new recommendations are less strict than previous ones, reflecting new data that early screening of very young women wasn’t as helpful as previously thought. Now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends:
- Starting screening at age 21
- Women at low risk should get screened every 2 years
- Women 30 and older who have three consecutive Pap tests that were normal, and who have no history of seriously abnormal findings, can stretch the interval between screenings to three years.
- Women who have a total hysterectomy (which removes the uterus and cervix) for a noncancerous condition, and who had no severe abnormalities on previous Pap tests, can quit having the tests entirely.
- Women can stop having Pap tests between 65 and 70 if they have three or more negative tests in a row and no abnormal test results in the last 10 years.
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