Are the New Pap Smear Guidelines for Black Women?
1 year ago
Annual Pap smears no longer needed
For generations, yearly Pap smear exams have been a medical ritual for women. First introduced in 1941, Pap smears reduced deaths from cervical cancer, which was once the No. 1 cancer killer among women, by about 70 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
While Pap smears remain an essential part of cervical cancer prevention, 2 leading medical groups are recommending that women no longer go for yearly Pap smear tests. Instead, women can wait as long as 5 years depending on age and test-result history.
The new guidelines suggest:
*Women who are 21 to 29 years old only need a Pap smear every 3 years if they’ve had normal Pap smear results.
*Women ages 30 to 65 can prolong screening to every 5 years if they get what’s called "co-testing" with the Pap smear and HPV (human papiloma virus) test, which will add an increased level of detection of cervical cancer.
*Women under the age of 21 are not required to get pap smears at all, even if they are sexually active.
*Women under 30 should not be screened for HPV because brief infections are so common, they would give too many false alarms.
*The new guidelines also recommend no more screening for women over 65 unless they have certain risk factors.
[ALSO READ: Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer?]
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and medical groups led by the American Cancer Society say eliminating yearly Pap smear examinations will benefit women more. They’ve found that annual testing brought on false-positives Pap smear tests, unnecessary biopsies—which bring a risk of infection, pregnancy complications and infertility—and, of course, unnecessary stress combined with costly doctor visits.
However, in my opinion, the new guidelines do not represent the best interest of every women, especially Black women, who are 40-percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and twice as likely to die from it than white women.