A recent report states that more than 8 million U.S. adult women are checking out of their cervical cancer screening, and that number is raising more than a few eyebrows for those who feel cervical cancer is one of the most treatable forms of the disease—if caught early.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. They should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results should not be screened for cervical cancer. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer should continue to be screened.
In most instances, a Pap Smear will not be necessary on a yearly basis (unless you have a prior history of abnormal readings/a prior cancer diagnoses). However, the recent report would suggest that a majority of women still aren’t taking advantage of the screening process and some point to issues such as insurance, lack of information, and transportation as part of the problem.
Even so, the facts are clear: cervical cancer is preventable and women need to be more proactive about requesting screenings and physicians need to be more adamant about suggesting them.
“Every visit to a provider can be an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer by making sure women are referred for screening appropriately,” said the CDC’s deputy director, Ileana Arias. “We must increase our efforts to make sure that all women understand the importance of getting screened for cervical cancer. No woman should die from cervical cancer.”