New Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening
Jaime Thompson, CNM, shares the new guidelines with 6News reporter Ann Wilso
Watch the 6News story.
By Ann Wilson on January 3, 2013
January is cervical cancer awareness month, and this year it is important for women to be aware of new screening guidelines. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society no longer recommend a yearly pap test for women.
According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer takes many years to develop. Because of the ability to detect the disease in its early stages, the cancer can be caught early enough with longer time between pap tests.
The new screening guidelines are as follows:
- Starting at age 21, women should get a test every three years
- Between ages 30 and 65-the preferred method is co-testing with HPV every five years, but a pap alone every three years is acceptable
- Women over 65 should not be screened unless they’ve already been diagnosed with pre-cancer
Certified Nurse Midwife Jaime Thompson says a lot of patients are very excited about the new guidelines, but there’s a little confusion with older patients who have been getting pap tests done yearly since they were in their teenage years.
“They’re a little nervous, but once we’ve educated them on the benefits of less intervention, they seem to be very excited about it,” Thompson said.
Thompson said there’s been a lot of unnecessary testing and procedures done that causes problems with women later in life. Such issues are problems with infertility and complications with pregnancy.
According to the CDC, almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. HPV vaccines are available starting at age 11 and are effective for a lifetime, but the three-shot series must be administered before adulthood. The CDC recommends all women to get pap tests however, because not all cervical cancer is prevented by the vaccine.
“The guidelines are very individualized, so each person would want to talk with their provider about their specific circumstances,” Thompson said.
Both Thompson and the Kansas Department of Health said that although the pap testing guidelines have changed, women should continue to get annual exams.