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New PAP Testing Guidelines

A government agency recommends women get screened for cervical cancer every three years, rather than annually.

The US Preventive Services Task Force says yearly PAP tests are unnecessary, and that most cervical cancer cases are found in women who haven't been screened in at least 5 years, if ever. The task force also recommends PAP tests start at age 21 and end after age 65.

The American Cancer Society has proposed similar guidelines independently of the task force., and also recommends women over age 30 should be screened with both the PAP and HPV tests every three years.

While HPV tests are newer and can detect more cancers, the task force says there's not enough evidence that it should replace the PAP test.

The HPV test is more expensive than the PAP, but the task force does not consider cost in its analysis.


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