A Pap smear test is designed to detect cervical cancer in females. However, many women are not always sure how often they need a Pap smear test. In the past, women were generally told to get a Pap smear test once a year. However, that is no longer the case. Today, however, doctors recommend that most women get a Pap screening once every three years. In 2009, ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommended Pap screening once every 2 years for females between the ages of 21 and 29, and once every 3 years for women 30 years of age and older. Some exceptions include:
- Utero exposure to DES
- History of CIN (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia)
Today, the latest guidelines from experts claim that women between the ages of 30-65 can safely get their Pap smears done once every 5 years, instead of three, but only if the patients were tested for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) at their last Pap test.
Here are the new guidelines for how often a Pap smear test is required:
- Any females between the ages of 21 and 29 need Pap screening done once every three years, along with any woman age 29 and over who did not get an HPV test during her last Pap smear.
- HPV testing is not recommended for any woman younger than 30 years of age due to high occurrence of HPV that clears up on its own in this age group.
Shouldn’t I Get a Pap Smear Done Once a Year?
Some women get nervous when they are told the new recommendations for Pap testing. However, as long as doctor’s orders are followed and you get your Pap smear as recommended by your physician, the chances of you developing cervical cancer are quite low due to these important reasons:
- More frequent Pap smear exams have been proven harmful because of the needless testing and related procedures that can cause problems later on down the road, especially for women in their childbearing years who get pregnant later.
- Cervical cancer is an extremely slow-developing cancer that normally takes 10-20 years to fully develop.
- Most cervical cancer develops from HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which is transmitted sexually. Therefore, any woman engaged in a long-term monogamous relationship that always has a normal Pap smear test every year is considered a very low risk of developing cervical cancer.
At South Lake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery, we understand that each patient is different. Our doctors will be able to determine the most appropriate schedule for you based on your individual needs. Depending on your health, family history and other factors, we can determine the safest and most effective treatment schedule for you. Contact South Lake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery today to schedule your consultation.