While regular screening for cervical cancer is strongly recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65, some women can safely discontinue regular screening or be screened less often, according to new research.
Harm in continued screening
The researchers of the US Preventive Services Task Force say the harm of continued routine screening, such as false positive tests and invasive procedures, outweighs the benefits of regular screening for women aged 65 and over who have had regular normal Pap smears.
And there is no evidence that annual screening achieves better outcomes than screening every three years in young women who have had at least two normal annual screenings, the researchers say.
Pap testing followed by appropriate treatment can effectively prevent invasive cervical cancer by detecting pre-cancerous lesions before they grow and spread.
Here are some other recommendations from the panel of experts:
- Screening should start for women three years after they begin sexual activity or at age 21, whichever comes first.
- Screening is not recommended for women who have had a total hysterectomy for a non-cancerous condition.
- There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against new technologies such as liquid-based cytology instead of conventional Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.
- There also is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of human papillomavirus testing as a primary screening tool for cervical cancer. – (HealthScout News)
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