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Group suggests young women need fewer pap smears

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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 11:04 AM by Dana Hackett
Updated: Nov 20, 2009 4:47 PM
Source: Associated Press, WBRZ

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Topics: Pap smear, test, guidelines, annual, exam, women

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest women in their 20s don't need to get a Pap smear every year as previously thought. The group says those women can get a Pap smear every two years instead of annually.

The guidelines also say routine Paps should start at age 21. Previously, the group suggested a Pap within three years of a woman's first sexual intercourse experience.

New guidelines also suggest women 30 and older can wait to get the test every three years once they have had three consecutive clear tests.

Pap smears have been used to detect cervical cancer. ACOG cited studies showing there was no increased risk of cancer developing in women in their 20s if they waited to get tested every two years.

Some doctors worry the new guidelines will encourage women to delay screenings, and could lead to late detections of cervical cancer.

Patients are also concerned insurance companies will use the guidelines as a cost-saving measure. The fear is insurance companies will only start providing coverage for pap tests every two years, instead of annually.

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