Should We Really Be Waiting 3 Years For A Pap Test?

pap test

“In 2016, there will be roughly 12,990 new cases of cervical cancer of which an estimated 4,990 will die from the disease.” – American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics Center…

The numbers are scary, aren’t they? Did you know that cervical cancer used to be the number one killer of women in the United States? However, in recent years, those numbers have declined by about 50%. Experts say that the decline is due mainly to the increase in pap tests, which are used to detect cervical cancer or changes in the cells within a woman’s cervix.

How many of you went in for a Pap test within the last few years and were told by your OGBYN that, unless you have cause for concern or certain risk factors (see below), it’s now recommended that you have a Pap test done every three years? In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced new recommendations for the Pap test, changing the guidelines from a yearly exam to three years. It’s also recommended now that a woman get her first Pap smear done at age 21 rather than at age 19 or when she starts to become sexually active.

Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer:

  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection
  • Smoking
  • Immunosuppression
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Poor diet which lacks fruits and vegetables
  • Overweight
  • Long term use of birth control pills
  • IUDs
  • Poverty
  • Family history of cervical cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer starts from cells that are pre-cancerous, meaning they haven’t yet developed into cancer. While it can usually take several years for cervical pre-cancer to become cancerous, it CAN happen in less than a year. So why should we be waiting three years to have a Pap test?

If you look at this from a political standpoint, there is another serious cause for concern in deciding that women should wait three years before having a Pap test. We’ve all heard President Elect Trump declare he’s going to overturn and abolish the Affordable Care Act. Under ACA as it stands now, Pap tests are covered as part of the free preventives for women. Should President Elect Trump actually overturn ACA, there is no guarantee that Pap tests will be covered by new and existing insurance plans.

Share your thoughts on waiting three years for a Pap test!


College graduate with a B.A. in Communications. Writer. Bookworm. Millennial.