Pap Testing Moving Towards Alignment With Guidelines
(HealthDay News) – Increasing numbers of women are receiving Papanicolau (Pap) screening for cervical cancer at an age and with a frequency consistent with the latest guidelines, according to two studies published in the Jan. 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.
Mona Saraiya, MD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed trends in Pap testing using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; 2000–2010) for 125,297 18- to 30-year-old women. The researchers found that, among women aged 18–21 years, there was an increase in the percentage reporting never having been tested (26.3 to 47.5%) and a decrease in the percentage reporting having had a Pap test in the past 12 months (from 65.0 to 41.5%). For women aged 22–30 years, the proportion never tested increased from 6.6 to 9.0%, and the proportion who had a Pap test in the previous year decreased from 78.1 to 67.0%.
In a second study, Meg Watson, MPH, also from the CDC, and colleagues assessed recent screening behaviors and trends using data from the BRFSS for women aged >30 years. The researchers noted a decrease in the proportion of women reporting having had a hysterectomy who had undergone a recent Pap test (within three years), from 73.3% in 2000 to 58.7% in 2010. These decreases were consistent among women aged 30–64 years, for women aged >65 years, and for women aged >65 years with no history of hysterectomy.
"Research is needed to determine how to further reduce unnecessary screening," write the authors of an editorial note accompanying the second study. "Monitoring Pap test prevalence among U.S. women is important to ensure that resources are targeted to women with the most need."