While younger females (under 30) are receiving regular screening with the country’s current suggestions, 60% of women keep getting consistent Pap tests even after undergoing a total hysterectomy.
The findings came from two different reports by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and were published in CDC’S Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Women aged 21 and older should receive a Pap test screening every three years, according to suggestions in 2012 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Cancer Society. They advised women not to receive screening every year.
These groups also said that the majority of women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and uterine cervix) for reasons other than cancer do not need to be screened. Females older than 65 who have received many normal test results in the past were not recommended to be screened either.
Meg Watson, M.P.H., an epidemiologist with CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said:
“As we monitor Pap test use among U.S. women, we can make sure that women are being screened in accordance with guidelines, to best maximize the benefits of screening and minimize the harms.”
Pap test survey data from CDC’s Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System during 2000 through 2010 was gathered and examined by the scientists for both reports.
Analysis showed that screening is now more consistent due to the most recent suggestions for cervical cancer screening:
- The percentage of females between the ages of 18 and 21 who claimed to never have received screening rose from 23.6% in 2000 to 47.5% in 2010. Women aged 21 or under are not advised to be screened.
- In 2010, recent screening (within 3 years) reduced among females aged 30 years and older without a hysterectomy – mainly because of a reduction among females aged 65 and older (from 73.5% in 2000 to 64.5%).
- Pap testing dropped from 73.3% in 2000 to 58.7% in 2010 among women aged 30 and older who had a hysterectomy.
On the other hand, despite the suggestions, results showed:
- The percentage of women between the ages of 22 and 30 years who had not received testing increased from 6.5% in 2000 to 9% in 2010.
- Females between the ages of 30 and 64 years without health insurance and who had not had a hysterectomy had a lower chance of getting screening within the past three years (from 74.4% in 2000 to 68.7% in 2010).
Keisha Houston, Dr.Ph., Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention Control, concluded:
“The good news is we are focusing our public health efforts on women at highest risk, while decreasing screening for women under age 21, when cervical cancer is rare and screening is not recommended. We need to remain vigilant and increase screening among women who would benefit most from this preventive service.”
Now, Medicare and several private health plans cover specific preventive services, such as screening for cervical cancer, as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The patient does not have to worry about copays or costs they need to pay on their own.
Women who have lower salaries, who do not have insurance, and who are underinsured can receive cervical and breast cancer screening and diagnostic services in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and 11 American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations with the help of CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Written by Sarah Glynn