Last week, some controversial recommendations were made by a Government task-force for screening of breast cancer, including one that said that mammography should be delayed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is now following in the same footsteps and has called for some substantial changes in the way cervical cancer is screened.
One of the biggest changes that the group has recommended is that women should begin with routine pap tests at the age of 21, rather than the earlier recommended age of much before. Also, the physicians of the group are of the opinion that annual tests are not required for most women.
As opposed to the reaction garnered by the new mammography guidelines, experts have been quick to assert that new pap guidelines will not spark much controversy. "The new recommendations for cervical cancer screening really do not miss any cancers", says David E. Soper, who chairs ACOG's Gynecological Practice Bulletin Committee. "The data are very clear, for women in their 20s, having an annual Pap smear will find no more cancers than screening every two years."
Important changes include - pap tests for women between the age of 21-30 to be administered every 2 years, instead of annually, more frequent screening for women who are at an increased risk of contracting the condition and women who are over 30 and have had 3 consecutive normal pap reports to be screened every 3 years.
Pap tests have been greatly responsible for as much as 50% reduction in the rate of cervical cancer during the past 10 years in the US.