• U.S.

SECOND OPINION: Pap Test: Do You Need One?

2 minute read
Sora Song

Most women who see a gynecologist have become accustomed to the annual Pap smear, the standard cervical-cancer screening tool. But, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the test produces nearly 3 million abnormal results a year–yet only 13,000 cases of cervical cancer occur yearly–leading to needless anxiety or invasive, potentially harmful procedures. So the ACS has revised its screening guidelines and now recommends fewer tests or none at all for certain women. Those over 30 who have had three normal Pap smears in a row can scale back to once every two or three years, unless they have such risk factors as HIV or a weak immune system. Women who have had a total hysterectomy not as a result of cancer don’t need the test, nor do women over 70 who have had three or more normal Pap tests and no abnormal results in 10 years. At least 93% of cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus; young women who have never had sexual intercourse can skip the screening. The ACS advises, however, that all women get tested three years after starting to have sex or no later than age 21. For the full guidelines, visit www.cancer.org –By Sora Song

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