Changes to cervical cancer screenings recommended

A recent change in the recommended screenings for cervical cancer has sparked a controversy among medical organizations, health advocates and care providers.

In September 2017, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation that states:

“The USPSTF recommends either screening every 3 years with cervical cytology [Pap test] alone or every 5 years with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing alone in women ages 30 to 65 years.”

That recommendation to use just one of the two screening methods is a change from the Task Force’s previous recommendation.  In 2012, the USPSTF recommended women age 30 to 64 undergo both the HPV and Pap tests every five years.

Many major medical organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American College of Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, still recommend both exams.

According to a recent NPR article, simplifying the cervical cancer screening could result in missed diagnoses, especially among at-risk populations. The article states:

“A proposal to simplify cervical cancer screening could end up missing some cancers, researchers and patient advocates say. And that could be especially true for minority women. Latina and black women already have the highest rates of cervical cancer in the U.S., and more than half of women with the disease were not screened in the five years before their diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

At Women’s Care Florida, we follow the current cervical cancer screening guidelines for low-risk women. (Depending on your risk factors, your provider may recommend more frequent screenings.  Women who have an abnormal cervical cancer screening test result, a history of cervical cancer, HIV, or a weakened immune system may need additional screening.)

If you are:

Under 21 years of ageYou do not need screening
Age 21 to 29A Pap smear every 3 years with possible HPV depending on certain Pap results.
Age 30-64A Pap smear and HPV (co-testing) every 3 to 5 years; or a Pap smear alone every 3 years.
Over 65 or after hysterectomyYou do not need screening anymore if all of your recent Pap smears have been normal.


For recommendations on the type and frequency of cervical cancer screenings that are best suited to your stage of life, ask your OB/GYN. Find a physician now at Women’s Care Florida.