Navigating screening guidelines.

Navigating screening guidelines. 

By Dr. Patricia Petit

The incidence of cancer in the US has declined by over 50% in the past 30 years.  The addition of HPV testing continues to change the screening guidelines.

Pap screening in the mainstay for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical dysplasia before it becomes cervical cancer.

Current Pap screening guidelines:

  • If you are younger than 21 years, you do not need screening.
  • If you are 21-29 years, have a Pap test every three years. 
  • If you are 30-65 years, have a Pap plus HPV test (co-testing) every five years, or a Pap alone every three years.
  • If you are 65 years of older, you do not need screening if you have no history of cervical changes and either three neg Pap tests in a row or two negative Pap/HPV in a row in the last 10- years.

Remember, you still need screening even if you have been vaccinated against  HPV.  You also need screening if you have had a hysterectomy and cervix was not removed.

There are exceptions to these guidelines. 

Even if you are not due for a Pap test, you should still see your provider for an annual well women exam.

At this visit, you can discuss birth control, vaccinations, health screening, preconception care, menopause concerns and reproductive health.

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