Ask Sofia: Do I need a pap every year?
“We recommend annual visits to your doctor to discuss all aspects of your health and wellness,” said Dr. Donna Block. “We are always happy to see you, answer any questions, and talk about what’s been going on in your life and health over the past year. Regarding the Pap smear, screening guidelines for cervical cancer continue to evolve, and most women should have a Pap smear every three to five years, unless you’re at higher risk for cervical cancer.”
Cervical cancer has decreased more than 50 percent in the past three decades thanks to screening with Pap tests and other technology. A Pap smear, which involves collecting cells from the opening of the cervix, is the best way to detect changes in cervix cells. When it is detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends that:
- All women begin cervical cancer screening at age 21;
- Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years;
- Women ages 30-65 should have a Pap test and HVP test every five years;
- You can stop screening after age 65 if you’ve had regular screening for the past decade or longer and haven’t had any serious pre-cancers.