Teens    

Why are pap test rules changing now?



October 22, 2012 new regulations adopted

Many women make it a priority to visit their gynecologist every year in order to have their annual pap smear, but it was just 10 months ago that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists formally issued a statement saying that most women should be screened for cervical cancer no more than once every three to five years.

“The recommendation to do a pap smear every year was arbitrary and not based on scientific research" says Dr. Donna Kasello of Health Quest Medical Practice.  “Basically, what the current research shows is that we have been over screening which has lead to unnecessary biopsies and procedures.”

According to Dr. Kasello, she rarely sees cervical cancer cases in her practice even through cervical cancer is on the rise world wide.  That is because in the US doctors and their patients have been diligent with cervical cancer screenings and patients are treated before anything progresses to cancer.  It just turns out that cervical cancer often progresses at a slow rate and therefore screening intervals can be extended.

What is a Pap test?

A Pap test, also called a Pap smear, checks for changes in the cells of a woman's cervix.  Some of these changes show a pre-cancerous change in the cells and when treated it prevents these cells becoming cancerous. This screening for cervical cancer now includes HPV testing.  According to Dr. Kasello,  "Even if you have an Human Papilloma Virus( HPV) infection, it doesn't mean you have cervical cancer, it only means you have a risk factor for developing cervical cancer."

How is a Pap test done?

During a pelvic exam, your doctor will use a small mascara-like swab to extract sample cells from the cervix.  The sample is then placed on a slide and sent to a lab for screening.  Although the test is usually painless, some women experience mild discomfort during the exam.

What about HPV screening?

Prior to the new guidelines, it was widely assumed that women in their 20s should be tested for HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.  "If a woman in the 21-29 age range has a normal Pap smear, they do not require the HPV test," says Dr. Kassello.  "We assume that many women in this age group will have a positive HPV test, but studies have shown that they will develop immunity to the virus."

Although HPV screenings aren't always needed for women in their 20s, new research shows women in their 30s should have the Pap and HVP test together. Doctors believe that if both tests come back negative, most women can wait  from three to five years to be  tested again.

Dr. Kasello cautions, "Cervical cancer is a disease of those in their 40s and 50s, so it is important for women in that age range to be tested at recommended intervals."

What are the new screening guidelines?

The following cervical cancer screening schedule is recommended:

  • 21 to 65 years old: Have a Pap test every 3 to 5 years. 
  • 21 to 29 years old: Have a Pap smear only.
  • 30 to 65 years old: Have a Pap smear plus the HVP test.
  • Over 65: No screenings required.

Although research suggests less frequent Pap tests, it is still important for women to continue their wellness visits. "Remember," says Dr. Kasello, "your annual visit is more than just a Pap test. You still need to come in yearly for your OB/GYN exam."

 

Dr. Kasello sees patients in HQMP OBGYN Fishkill and Poughkeepsie offices and delivers babies at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.



Other articles by Health Quest Medical Practice-Obstetrics and Gynecology


  • A girl’s first gynecological visit

    Dr. Obosa Osawe of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses taking your daughter to the gynecologist

    Dr. Obasa Osawe, a board certified Health Quest Medical Practice OB/GYN, shares insights on when to schedule your daughter’s first gynecological appointment and how to prepare her (and yourself) for the exam. read more »
  • Giving birth on your own terms

    Shaye Arnold of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses midwifery

    Childbirth is a truly amazing experience. Those that have witnessed the birth of their child know it is hard to describe the intense rush of emotions felt as your child enters the world. Shaye Arnold, a certified nurse midwife at Health Quest Medical Practice, knows exactly how empowering childbirth can be, which is why she knew she was destined to become a midwife. read more »
  • Are you at risk of developing gestational diabetes?

    Dr. Jed Turk of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses gestational diabetes

    Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be alarming, but Dr. Jed Turk, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Health Quest Medical Practice, knows your diagnosis doesn’t mean your pregnancy won’t progress normally, nor does it mean your baby will be unhealthy. read more »
  • Am I going through the change?

    Dr. Jose E. Baez of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses perimenopause

    You wake up doused in sweat, your clothes don’t fit, and you’re literally crying over spilled milk. Dr. Jose E. Baez, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Health Quest Medical Practice in Poughkeepsie, knows you’re not on the verge of a breakdown; but, you may be entering perimenopause. read more »
  • Ask the OB: Pregnant after 35

    Dr. Jed Turk of Health Quest Medical Practice answers questions about becoming pregnant as you get older.

    If you have put off becoming pregnant because of your career, relationship issues, or you just weren’t ready, you may have questions about becoming pregnant as you get older. Obstetrician Jed Turk, MD gives straight-forward answers to some of women’s top concerns. read more »
  • Is it Braxton Hicks or True Labor Contractions?

    Dr. Donna Kasello of Health Quest Medical Practice answers questions about Braxton Hicks contractions.

    Dr. Donna Kasello of Health Quest Medical Practice answers questions about Braxton Hicks contractions that occur in about 70% of pregnant women read more »
  • If you don't vaccinate your children - read no further.

    Dr. Molly Cowgill of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses the importance of immunizing for for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

    Dr. Molly Cowgill of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses the importance of immunizing for for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). read more »
  • What is a midwife and what services do they provide?

    Is using a midwife the right choice for you?

    Nancey Rosensweig, a certified nurse midwife, joined Health Quest Medical Practice (HQMP) in 2011, and has more than 15 years experience in guiding women through their pregnancies. She answers questions about midwives and their services. read more »
  • Ask the OB: What is abnormal uterine bleeding?

    Dr. Obosa Osawe, OBGYN, joined Health Quest Medical Practice in 2010. She answers questions on the topic of abnormal uterine bleeding. read more »
  • Ask the OB: Exercise during pregnancy

    Dr. Stacey Madoff of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses the importance of exercise during pregnancy

    Dr. Stacey Madoff of Health Quest Medical Practice discusses the importance of exercise during pregnancy read more »