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Cervical cancer screening guideline changes women of all ages

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According to the CDC, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. It accounts for nearly one of every four deaths.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has identified some cancers where proactive screening can reduce the associated death rate, and others where the risks of screening can outweigh the potential benefits.

“Updated guidelines for cervical and ovarian cancers have been issued during the past few years,” said John Devine, M.D., FACOG, a board-certified gynecologist and fellowship-trained urogynecologist treating patients at Gulf Coast Medical Group in Venice, Englewood and Sarasota. “It’s important to discuss with your doctor your risk factors and the benefits of cancer screening.”

Cervical cancer is one of the great success stories in cancer prevention. Since the introduction of cervical cancer screenings via Pap testing in the 1950s, the incidence of what was once the number one cancer in women has plummeted.

Current USPSTF screening guidelines for cervical cancer are:

  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test at least every three years. HPV (Human Papillomavirus – the virus known to cause cervical cancer) testing should be done only if needed after an abnormal Pap test.
  • Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test at least every five years.
  • Women over 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results should not be screened for cervical cancer.