Nov. 20, 2009 -- Less than a week after a government task force announced controversial recommendations for breast cancer screening, a doctor's group is recommending big changes in cervical cancer screening.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now says women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21, rather than earlier in life.
And the group no longer recommends annual screening for most women.
The new breast cancer recommendations sparked heated debate within the medical community. Even those who support delaying the onset of mammography screening acknowledge that some breast cancers will be missed.
But experts tell WebMD the revised cervical cancer guidelines will not be as controversial.
"The new recommendations for cervical cancer screening really do not miss any cancers," says David E. Soper, MD, who chairs ACOG's Gynecological Practice Bulletin Committee.
"The data are very clear," he tells WebMD. "For women in their 20s, having an annual Pap smear will find no more cancers than screening every two years."