Task force advises cervical cancer screenings every 3 years

Posted March 26, 2012

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Women 21 to 65 years old should receive a Pap test every three years, according to updated guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published online March 14 in Annals of Internal Medicine. The guidance says doctors can extend the screen to once every five years in women 30 to 65 if a patient receives a human papillomavirus test at the same time as a Pap smear.

The task force recommends against screening for cervical cancer in women younger than 21 because data show the test in this population does not lead to a reduction in cervical cancer (link).

The guidelines also discourage screening for the disease in women older than 65 who have had adequate prior testing and are not at high risk of developing the condition. Risk factors for cervical cancer include HPV infection, HIV infection, a compromised immune system, in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol and previous treatment of a high-grade precancerous lesion or cervical cancer, according to the task force.

Screening is not advised in women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and who do not have a history of high-grade precancerous lesion or cervical cancer, the task force said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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