February 2, 2018
In 2018, it is estimated that more than 13,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, most often with a pap smear, also called a pap test, or a pap smear combined with a screening test for HPV, human papillomavirus. At one point, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for women in the U.S.
Over the last four decades, however, mortality rates have been reduced by more than half, and that drop is largely attributed to the effectiveness of pap tests. In fact, advances in cervical cancer screening, including co-testing with a pap smear and HPV screening, have caused the greatest success stories in healthcare. That’s because, if cervical cancer is found early it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
Still, every year, more than 4,000 women die from cervical cancer.
Now, a troubling development in the form of recently proposed new guidelines for cervical cancer screening, could endanger the health and lives of women by reducing the availability of these diagnostic tools.
Currently, the medical guidelines, which were established in 2012, call for women between the ages of 30 and 65 to be co-tested with both a pap smear and HPV screening every five years. These guidelines, and specifically the use of both tests, have proven critical to saving lives by diagnosing cervical cancer as early as possible, leading to more successful treatments.