Government Panel Recommends Extended Time Between Cervical Cancer Screenings

March 19, 2012

According to new recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force, the time between cervical cancer screenings for women ages 30 to 65 can safely be extended to five years as long as they get both a Pap and HPV test when they are screened. As reported on, women ages 21 to 30 should still get a Pap smear every three years. Those younger than 21 and older than 65 can skip screenings altogether. The panel’s recommendations are an attempt to cut back on the number of women treated for lesions that might resolve on their own.” The downside, however, is that the extended period between screenings could potentially increase cervical cancer deaths. While the potential increase is very small, is any number of additional deaths acceptable? The issue is far from simple. Screening reveals more cancer and pre-cancerous lesions, but can also lead to painful therapies for women you ultimately won’t need them. Studies show that some treatments can result in adverse pregnancy outcomes, including pre-term delivery, low infant birth weight, stillbirth or death shortly after delivery. Thomas Randall, MD, director of Gynecologic Oncology at Pennsylvania Hospital, is featured in the article. “I applaud the panel’s effort to minimize the emotional and physical burden of treatment on patients,” said Randall. “But…it might make more sense to look at ways to decrease the number of colposcopies and excisions rather than cutting back on screening.” Read More

Related Information

Learn more about cervical cancer treatment at the Abramson Cancer Center.

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