Latest Cervical Cancer Screening Research is Not Changing Health Advice to Women

Aug 22, 2014

WAER Cancer Screening and Prevention Series: Cervical Cancer

  Deaths from Cervical Cancer have dropped dramatically in the last two decades due to regular screenings becoming more routine.  WAER continues our series on cancer screening and prevention today.  Some new developments are not changing the advice of medical experts – yet.

News Reports: Cervical cancer was diagnosed in more than 12-thousand women last year, but it remains the easiest female cancer to prevent.      

The main test for prevention of cervical cancer remains the Pap test.  Onondaga County Health Educator Emily Young still finds experts and doctors offering the same advice to most women.

“Still the latest in cervical screening is going to be the Pap test or Pap smear.  It’s been around for a long time, most women are familiar with it.  Some women don’t get it as often as they should for whatever reason, but it’s definitely the one and only screening test for cervical cancer.” 

Women between 21 and 65 should be getting the test every three years as a rule, unless doctors advise differently.  Cervical Cancer doesn’t really have a family or hereditary aspect that might be more  predictive, but if found there are high rates of successful treatment.  More recently there have been news reports of a new way to prevent it.

This Spring the FDA approved a new test for women 25 and older.  The HPV test detects infection in the DNA of women. 

The DNA test finds evidence of the Human Papilloma Virus, present in just about all cervical cancer cases.  Young says some women get both screenings and then don’t have to get tested as often.  Some believe this new test could replace the Pap Smear…but not yet according to local health officials.  Young does urge all women in the age group to get tested…countering a myth to stop after childbirth.

“Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who either have never had a Pap test in their whole life or they haven’t had one in at least five years, because cervical cancer is very slow growing.  So if women are keeping up on the Pap test then most likely they’re going to find any pre-cancerous changes or cell changes.”

Most insurance covers the testing…which might even increase due to federal health insurance changes.  

Onondaga County runs free screenings for those without insurance …find out more at Ongov.net/health