Options for cervical cancer check depend on age
Forget one-size-fits-all advice: Women can now choose to do the cervical cancer testing depending on their age.
Once recommended every year, many major medical groups have long said that a Pap test every three years is the best way to screen most women, starting at age 21 and ending at 65.
But starting at age 30, you could choose to be tested for the cancer-causing HPV virus along with your Pap – and get checked every five years instead, say separate guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Cancer Society and some other organizations.
It`s not a requirement – women 30 and over could stick with the every-three-years Pap and do fine, the guidelines say.
But if they choose the newer Pap-plus-HPV option and the results of both tests are negative, the guidelines conclude it`s safe to wait a bit longer than previously recommended for the next cervical check. That`s because certain strains of HPV, the human papillomavirus, cause most cervical cancer, but the infection has to persist for a number of years to do its damage.
The cancer society already said women 30 and older could use both tests, but draft recommendations issued last fall by the task force, which advises the government, didn`t include that option. The task force has since reviewed additional evidence and rewrote its final guidelines so that the medical groups now agree.