In the same week that the American Cancer Society released its report on the trends of cancer related death, I read an article from Medscape regarding the percent of women who are being screened for cervical cancer according to the current recommendations.
Recommendations for the pap smear have changed in the past few years. Women are no longer to start them at age 18 and continue them yearly for the rest of their lives. Which is really nice!
For most women, the start age is 21 and the exam is to be repeated every three years until the age of 65. If a woman has had a total hysterectomy (cervix removed) there is no need for the screening. If a woman has had exposure to HPV and an abnormal tissue sample was obtained (precancerous lesions), the pap smear might be conducted annually.
The study I read found that most women were being screened appropriately EXCEPT women over the age of 65. If you are a woman over the age of 65, three separate organizations independently suggest that you no longer need to be screened.
Read more in this document. You may have to use the zoom or magnifier in adobe to read the text, its small!
Also – in regards to less death from cancer – that is WONDERFUL – now lets work on less people getting cancer… because we may not be dying from heart disease and cancer as much as we used to be but we are most definitely living with those diseases at very high rates. We are living SICKER not better.