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Doctor's Group: Delay Pap Tests Until 21

Changes Recommended in Schedule of Cervical Cancer Screening

The Case Against Screening Teens continued...

Such treatment has been linked to an increase in premature births.

"Screening for cervical cancer in adolescents only serves to increase their anxiety and has led to overuse of follow-up procedures for something that usually resolves on its own," ACOG's Alan G. Waxman, MD, says in a news release.

Ob-gyn Mark H. Einstein, MD, agrees. He directs the division of gynecologic oncology clinical research program at New York's Montefiore Medical Center.

"The vast majority of abnormalities identified though early screening are clinically irrelevant manifestations of [transient] HPV infection," he tells WebMD. "Early screening stigmatizes young women and subjects them to extra testing and unnecessary treatment."

Perspective of American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society, which was highly critical of the mammography changes, supports the new ACOG cervical cancer guidelines.

Last June, representatives from the American Cancer Society, ACOG, and close to 25 other health groups met to discuss cervical screening and management for adolescents.

According to American Cancer Society Director of Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Debbie Saslow, PhD, there was general agreement that for most women, screening should begin at age 21.

Saslow says in a news release that overscreening has lead to overtreatment of young women. But she also says that underscreening of women who should have regular Pap tests leads to death. "Most women who die from cervical cancer have never been screened or have not been screened in at least five years."

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