Annual test for cervical cancer not needed

March 8, 2013 at 8:05 PM
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ATLANTA, March 8 (UPI) -- Annual screening for cervical cancer is no longer recommended for women, a U.S. health official said.

Meg Watson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said cervical cancer has been declining in the United States -- largely due to routine testing to find it early and from women getting a human papillomavirus vaccine.

If testing determines a woman has a precancerous cervical lesion treatments can help reduce the risk the lesion will develop into cervical cancer.

"Beginning at age 21, women should get a Pap test every three years," Watson said in a statement.

"At age 30, women can choose to continue -- or have a HPV test along with a Pap test, and extend their screening intervals to every five years."

HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.

Watson said most women could stop getting tested after age 65 or after a hysterectomy. She said women should check with their doctors on specifics.

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