For the second time this week, a group of medical experts is recommending a reduction in the frequency of health screenings for women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued new cervical-cancer screening guidelines advising women to wait until they are 21 to have their first Pap smear. The organization had previously recommend that women undergo their first cervical screening three years after first becoming sexually active or by age 21, whichever occurred first.
The new guidelines, published in the December 2009 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also recommend that women 21 to 30 have cervical screenings using either the Pap smear or liquid cytology method every two years instead of annually, and that women over 30 who have had three negative screening results consider having the test every three years.
“A review of the evidence to date shows that screening at less-frequent intervals prevents cervical cancer just as well, has decreased costs and avoids unnecessary interventions that could be harmful,” said Alan Waxman, who led the document's development committee and is a faculty member at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque.
Earlier, a federal paned suggested that women ages 40 to 49 without family history or predisposition for breast cancer should no longer undergo routine mammography.