WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. women ages 21-65 should get a Pap smear every three years, a change from every year, the Preventive Services Task Force said.
After a systematic review of the available evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — an independent advisory panel of health experts — posted a draft recommendation statement for public comment and after considering the comments it received, the task force concluded:
— Women ages 21-65 should be screened with cytology, or Pap smear, every three years.
— Women age 30-65 who want to be screened less frequently may choose the combination of cytology and human papillomavirus testing every five years.
— Screening is not recommended for women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix, women younger than age 21, or women older than 65 who previously have been adequately screened.
The recommendations apply to women — regardless of sexual history — who have a cervix and show no signs or symptoms of cervical cancer. In addition, the recommendations do not apply to women who are already at a very high risk for cancer, such as those who have been diagnosed with a high-grade precancerous cervical lesion or who have weakened immune systems.
Since the implementation of widespread cervical cancer screening, there has been a dramatic reduction in cervical cancer deaths in the United States, the researchers said.
“About half of women diagnosed with this disease have never had a Pap smear or have not been adequately screened,” Dr. Wanda Nicholson, task force member, said in a statement. “Therefore, it is important for clinicians and healthcare systems, to get women into screenings who have never been screened, or who have not been screened in the last five years.”
The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine