Conflicting reports on Pap smears for cervical cancer

July 25, 2012 8:34:26 AM PDT
Women face conflicting recommendations when it comes to preventing cancer.

New guidelines by a group of doctors on women's wellness exams are different from those issued by a government agency.

Everyone agrees that preventive care helps reduce the threat of cervical or breast cancer for women.

But annual Pap smears to screen for crevical cancer are no longer recommended for every woman.

The American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued guidelines in a new article, recommending annual well-woman exams for proper health maintenance beginning at age 21, and even sooner, if a woman has pelvic pain, a menstrual disorder or other worrisome symptoms.

However, they say it's not necessary to have an exam before starting birth-control pills.

The college also believes that women between the ages of 20 and 39 years old should have clinical breast exams every one to three years, and annual exams beginning at age 40.

That's where the doctors' group differs from the government task force. It recommends annual testing for breast cancer beginning at 50 years old.

The differing guidelines may be confusing, but, as always, it's best to consult with your own doctor to come up with the best preventive health care plan.

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