Wow! Stop the presses. Pap scheduling change. I know…every woman loves to go in to her doctor for a pap. (Just kidding.) Years ago we performed paps every year on every woman and that’s how the “annual visit” became synonymous with the pap. Well…no more!
The USPSTF which is a conservative organization (US Preventive Services Task Force) tells us that we can space out the paps AND even decrease our number of tests.
- screen women ages 21-29 every THREE years with cervical cytology as long as the results are normal.
- For women ages 30-65, the task force recommended screening with either cervical cytology alone (meaning a pap smear) every three years OR with high-risk HPV (hrHPV) testing alone (which feels like a pap, but is not) every five years.
- For both the pap OR the high-risk HPV testing a woman is undressed from the waist down, feet in stirrups, and a speculum placed inside the vagina. As a patient, you may be unaware of which test your doctor is doing. Ask! As a patient, I’d prefer the high-risk HPV test with the ability (if the test is negative/normal) to space out my paps for 5 years.
These are “A” recommendations. “A” means that they are well researched and supported. Want more information? www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org