ARKANSAS, USA — For years, part of an annual exam for women included a Pap smear.
A Pap is simply a scraping of cells from the surface of the cervix. The purpose is to screen for precancerous cells.
But, new guidelines have thrown women for a loop.
The clinical recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now says women ages 30 to 65 only need Pap screenings every three years.
UAMS Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Kristin Zorn not only verifies that is true, but she agrees with it.
“We recognize that a cervical exam with an annual Pap smear is just not necessary for the vast majority of women,” Zorn explained. “And especially when you’ve had Pap smears that are normal. They simply don’t have to be repeated that often.”
Zorn attributes the change to increased HPV testing among women, and said screening with HPV testing in women younger than 30 is another recommendation.
The USPTF also says:
“Evidence is convincing that many precancerous cervical lesions will regress and that other lesions are so slow-growing that they will not become clinically important over a woman’s lifetime.”
Some women argue their insurance companies just don’t want to pay for Pap smears anymore, but Zorn doesn’t agree.
“I think there’s been a lot of concern this is a financial decision rather than a healthcare decision, but it really is backed in good science,” Zorn said.