News & Commentary
Pap Guidelines Followed — Mostly
Millions of women who have had hysterectomies have gotten Pap tests despite recommendations nearly a decade old that say such tests are not needed and might actually do more harm than good.
The overall news about Pap tests is actually encouraging, though. A report in the January 3 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notes that guidelines for Pap tests are in fact being more closely followed, especially by women younger than 30.
Those guidelines have been laid down by three organizations: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
“In late 2002 and 2003, when the three organizations updated their guidelines, they all recommended that most women having had total hysterectomies for benign reasons should no longer be screened regularly, and the USPSTF recommended that women [65 and older] with a history of normal screening results should no longer be routinely screened,” the report states.
The percentage of women 18 to 21 who said that they’ve never been screened increased from about 24 percent in 2000 to about 48 percent in 2010; Pap tests are not recommended for women under 21.
In addition, Pap testing within the last three months for women 30 and older declined from about 73 percent in 2000 to about 59 percent in 2010.An improvement, for sure, but not so much as the authors would like to see.