Betty on the News: Pap Tests Should Begin at 21 Says New Guidelines

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists releases new guidelines on when women should first start having Pap tests.

Betty on the News: Pap Tests Should Begin at 21 Says New Guidelines

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists releases new guidelines on when women should first start having Pap tests done.

-Margeaux Baulch Klein

 Gynecologist office

Following on the heels of the new government-initiated mammogram guidelines, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has released some guidelines of their own, regarding the age that women should start to receive Pap tests.

According to ACOG’s new suggestions for doctors and patients, which were released this week, women should have their first Pap test no sooner than age 21, regardless of when they become sexually active.

Previously, it was thought that Pap tests, which are used to diagnose and prevent cervical cancer, should begin three years after a woman has sex for the first time, but early screenings in young girls lead to unnecessary and possibly harmful treatments for cervical cancer, Health.com reported.

The change in guidelines has also been a result of the decreasing rates of cervical cancer, which, despite what Gardasil ads would have you believe, is now rare, especially in women under the age of 30.

“The risk of invasive cancer is so exceedingly rare in this age group that to start screening at age 21 will still pick up the overwhelming majority of cases,” said Dr. Alan Waxman, a professor of ob-gyn at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

“The incidence of cervical cancer in 15- to 19-year-olds has been reported at 1 to 2 per million girls. That’s a lot of unnecessary pelvic exams and unnecessary potential treatments that can be avoided.” (CNN)

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