WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — With cervical cancer rates declining over the past decade, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is now changing its recommendations for Pap smears from every year to every three years.
"Cervical cancer is primarily caused by the Human papillomavirus and the vaccine, you know, we think is making a difference," said Dr. Dudley Brown.
Doctors warn not to confuse the Pap smear guidelines with your well woman’s exam, which you should still get done annually. The exam typically includes a pelvic and breast exam and screens for multiple types cancer.
"The bottom line is you should still see your gynecologist or provider who does that sort of exam annually, because that exam screens for multiple cancers. And then while you’re there, you can have a conversation specifically about cervical cancer," said Dr. Brown.
The updated Pap smear guidelines also warn against screening women younger than 21, as well as older than 65 who have had adequate prior screenings.
It’s important to note the guidelines are general recommendations. You should talk to your health care provider before making any changes.
To learn more about the new guidelines, click here.