Cervical Cancer Screening Not Urged for All

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Women who have never had sexual intercourse, women who have had hysterectomies including removal of the cervix for reasons other than cancer, and women who have had 3 normal Pap tests in a row can skip Pap tests or have them less often. The American Cancer Society (ACS) has issued new guidelines that advise that women in these categories are at a lower risk of developing cervical cancer because the majority of cases are caused by human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease.

The guidelines suggest that cervical cancer screenings should begin about 3 years after a woman begins having sexual intercourse, and this screening should be done annually for sexually active women. These guidelines were published in the November-December 2002 issue of the ACS? journal CA.