New Canadian health guidelines reveal that regular pap tests are not necessary in women under 25 years of age. Previously, women 18 and older required screening but health officials have determined that there is more potential harm in early screening than there is benefit.
The reasoning behind the proposed change is mostly correlated to the impact of misdiagnosing a patient. Pap tests can often produce a false positive which puts a lot of stress on the woman. After receiving an abnormal pap test, the patient is generally required to either take another pap test or undergo a colonoscopy, which also poses its own health concerns.
Health officials had the following to say about why the recommendations have changed:
“Our recommendations aim to balance the benefits of screening for cervical cancer with its potential harms for women of different ages.”
Here are some of the key point for the new recommended guidelines:
- No routine screening for women under age 25, including sexually active women.
- A strong recommendation for screening women aged 30 to 69 every three years.
- Ending screening for women aged 70 and over who’ve had three successive negative Pap test results.
Dr. Joan Murphy agrees with the recommendations, insisting that “by using HPV testing, cervical cancer screenings can be less frequent with equal effectiveness.”