Despite Guidelines, Doctors Still Recommend Annual Gyne Exams

( — Many doctors still recommend yearly Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer even though the guidelines suggest that some women can wait three years between negative tests, a survey shows.

The new findings appear in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Overscreening for cervical cancer can result in unnecessary follow-up tests and procedures, which cause stress and pain for the women and increase costs.

In 2011, there will be an estimated 12,710 new cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed and about 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

During a standard Pap test, a doctor scrapes cells from a woman’s cervix and a lab examines these cells for changes indicating precancer or cancer.

A test for human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a common cause of cervical cancer, is sometimes performed in addition to a Pap test. The HPV test is optional and can be used as a screen along with the Pap test in women age 30 and older and those who have unclear Pap test results.