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Doctors review cervical cancer testing guidelines

Category: Female Specific Tests

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) today released new guidelines for cervical cancer testing that may impact women’s decisions regarding when to begin screening for the disease.

The guidelines, published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, recommend that women first undergo cervical cancer testing at age 21 and continue to undergo screening once every two years until they turn 30. Women over 30 can safely be rescreened once every three years, according to the new advice.

"The tradition of doing a pap test every year has not been supported by recent scientific evidence," said Dr Alan G. Waxman of the University of New Mexico.

He added, "Screening at less frequent intervals prevents cervical cancer just as well, has decreased costs and avoids unnecessary interventions that could be harmful."

According to ACOG, pap tests have helped reduce cervical cancer rates in the U.S. by more than 50 percent in the past 30 years. Currently, the majority of deaths from the disease in the U.S. are among women who receive infrequent cervical cancer testing, or who have never been screened.

Because cervical cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing for early detection of the disease.

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