KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Guidelines For Cervical Cancer Screening Revised

The guidelines say that women between 30 and 65 can wait five years between screenings if they get both a Pap test and an HPV test.

NPR: Doctors Revamp Guidelines For Pap Smears
Women should get screened for cervical cancer far less frequently than doctors have long recommended, according to new guidelines released Wednesday. ... For years, doctors have recommended that women start getting Pap smears every year or two to try to catch signs of cancer early, when it's easiest to prevent and treat (Stein, 3/14).

The Associated Press: Options For Cervical Cancer Check Depend On Age
Once recommended every year, many major medical groups have long said that a Pap test every three years is the best way to screen most women, starting at age 21 and ending at 65. But starting at age 30, you could choose to be tested for the cancer-causing HPV virus along with your Pap — and get checked every five years instead, say separate guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Cancer Society and some other organizations (Neergaard, 3/14).

MSNBC: Pap Smear Every Five Years? Panel Says It's Safe
[T]hose younger than 21 and older than 65 can skip the screen altogether, the experts concluded. The panel is urging a extended intervals in screenings in an attempt to cut back on the number of women who end up being treated for lesions that might resolve on their own (Carroll, 3/14).

National Journal: New Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines Call For Fewer Pap Tests
(The U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force) has now revised downward its cancer-screening guidelines for the three most common cancer tests: mammograms, prostate specific antigen testing, and the Pap. The guidelines for breast- and prostate-cancer screening got a big backlash, as critics charged that the group—which does not consider cost in its calculations—would harm patients and encourage a rationing of care by suggesting less frequent tests (Sanger-Katz, 3/14).

Meanwhile, in other news about screening and preventive health -

MedPage Today: PSA Testing Still Has Value, Trial Suggests
[A]lthough screening resulted in about a 21% reduction in the rate of prostate cancer deaths, there was no effect on all-cause mortality. ... [The findings] leave practitioners in an "unsatisfactory situation" in which they may feel there is not yet enough data to abandon PSA screening, according to Anthony Miller, MD, of the University of Toronto. In an accompanying editorial, Miller ... said, it would be "unwise" to increase PSA testing in the U.S. and doctors would be well advised to follow the preliminary recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Smith, 3/14). 

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