Another Day, Another Recommendation to Relax Screening for Women

By Sadie Bass

Nov 20, 2009 11:11am

Today a panel of experts is out with a new recommendation regarding just how often women should get pap smears.  We are talking about catching cervical cancer early and the pap smear has of course is the way to do that.  The current thinking is that women should get smears starting within 3 years of their first sexual activity or no later than age 21.  The new recommendation is that women begin getting pap smears at age 21 and then instead of every year after – they get one every other year after.  As verse the new recommendations for breast cancer screening, the cervical cancer screening advice is being generally being received – at least in the medical community – as sound advice based on the data.  The big picture argument is that screening does have downsides.  Screening can lead to false positives and unnecessary procedures.  And in some cases screening does not make a difference.  This flies in the face of the long preached gospel that screening and catching cancer early is our best shot.  The group unveiling the cervical cancer recommendations say their timing has absolutely nothing to do with the breast cancer announcement earlier this week and both say all of this has nothing to do with the larger debate over reforming health care. 

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