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Cervical Cancer Screening Recommendations

Cervical Cancer:  About the Guidelines

What do the new screening recommendations mean for you?

by Helen Rho, MD, PhD
Boulder Medical Center

The National Cancer Institute estimates over 13,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2018. In 2015, there were over 257,000 U.S. women living with this disease, usually among inappropriately screened women. Cervical cancer accounts for a small percentage of cancer-related deaths and, fortunately, these figures have been declining over the years. With that said, it’s important to stay informed about new information regarding cervical cancer screening.

You may have heard about the newer cervical cancer screening recommendations recently published by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The recommendations, which appear on the USPSTF website and are based on analysis of several studies said:

“The USPSTF recommends screening for cervical cancer every 3 years with cervical cytology alone in women aged 21 to 29 years. For women aged 30 to 65 years, the USPSTF recommends screening every 3 years with cervical cytology alone, every 5 years with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing alone, or every 5 years with hrHPV testing in combination with cytology (i.e. cotesting).”

This statement differs from the previous guidelines in that, women ages 30 to 65 now have a third option of getting the hrHPV test every 5 years. Previously, women in that age group could opt for a PAP test every 3 years or cotesting for PAP and hrHPV every 5 years.

  • Cervical cancer screening over the age of 65
    If you had adequate prior screening and are not at high risk for cervical cancer, the USPSTF recommends against screening.*
  • Cancer screening for under 21 years old
    “The USPSTF recommends against screening for cervical cancer.”
  • Cervical cancer screening after a hysterectomy
    “The USPSTF recommends against screening for cervical cancer in women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and do not have a history of a high-grade precancerous lesion (i.e., cervical intraepithelial neoplasia [CIN] grade 2 or 3) or cervical cancer.”

* For specific details and exceptions, please visit the USPSTF website.
1 References: https://bit.ly/2oPsW0J

About Helen Rho, MD, PhD

Boulder Medical Center
Internal Medicine Department

Dr. Helen Rho addresses the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Board certified in both Internal Medicine and Family Medicine, she is trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of acute and chronic medical conditions.



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