Government Task Force Recommends Fewer Pap Tests

nurse taking womans blood pressure( — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently announced Tuesday that healthy women between the ages of 21 to 65 should only receive a Pap smear every three years. The federal panel, which is made up of experts in prevention and primary care, also did not support regular HPV screening for most women.

The experts warned that women are currently receiving too many Pap tests, saying the excessive screenings could cause more harm than good.

Instead of continuing to overtest, the task force said it would be better to reach out to those who have never been screened.

“There are a number of women who have never been screened, and that remains a challenge,” said Wanda Nicholson, one of the task force leaders and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical Center. “We need to keep those women at the top of our priority list and brainstorm for interventions for better access.”

Since the Pap smear became a regular part of women’s health, deaths from cervical cancer, which was once the No. 1 cancer killer among women, have dropped dramatically.