Annual pap test a 'thing of the past?'

Annual pap test a 'thing of the past?'

Additionally, the task force says that women over age 65 who have had adequate testing in the past and have no other risk factors do not need to be tested, and women under age 21 do not need to be tested either. The biggest change gives women aged 30-65 the option to forgo pap smears entirely. It is not recommended that women under 21 should not be tested, as cervical cancer before the age of 21 is rare.

A leading obstetrician/gynecologist Lee A. Learman, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Graduate Medical Education and Academic Affairs and professor at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine, is lead author of an editorial in this JAMA issue.

In the past, the recommendation for women in that age group has been a pap smear, also called an exfoliative cytology, once every three years or a pap smear combined with an HPV test (co-testing) once every five years. Melnikow coauthored an evidence review for the USPSTF. Previous guidelines established in 2012 suggested women aged 30 to 65 undergo co-testing with both the HPV test and Pap smear every five years. It's revised its recommendation for cervical cancer - for women over 30, the panel says a swab test for the virus which causes the disease may be fine by itself.

The researchers found that screening can detect high-grade precancerous cervical lesions and cervical cancer, resulting in substantial reductions in cervical cancer incidence and mortality.

"The current guidelines preserve the greatest range of choices for practitioners and patients; in the sense that both will benefit", said Learman. Cervical cancer is a slow-progressing disease, and HPV infections can resolve themselves or regress, which makes screening for cervical cancer before the age of 21 more harmful than beneficial, according to the USPSTF.

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Because most high-risk HPV infections among healthy individuals are cleared spontaneously without intervention, over the years, screening and clinical management recommendations have become more conservative in general and for young women in particular.

The human papillomavirus, abbreviated as HPV is the prime cause for cervical cancer.

The number of deaths from cervical cancer in the United States has decreased since widespread cervical cancer screening began, falling to 2.3 from 2.8 deaths per 100,000 women. "We don't want to turn a lot of well women into patients".

According to worldwide statistics, cervical cancer is the fourth cause of cancer in women. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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