Although cervical cancer screenings historically have been done during annual well-woman exams, a better understanding of cervical cancer has led to revamped age-specific guidelines that call for less-frequent screenings and fewer unnecessary treatments.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology released the new cervical cancer screening guidelines in November to mirror existing recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. The new recommendations are based on how strains of the human papilloma virus associated with cervical cancer behave in women of different age groups.
However, it is important to note that these are merely guidelines and care must be determined by each individual’s specific health circumstances. And, despite these changes, annual well-woman exams remain a critical part of maintaining your health.
At Golden Gate, our goal is to help you understand your own health risks and develop a screening strategy that is right for you. For example, even though cervical cancer screenings are no longer recommended for women younger than 21, it is very important that sexually active young women undergo screenings for other sexually transmitted infections that may affect future fertility and receive guidance and education about pregnancy and infection prevention.
It will take time to educate our patients and effectively implement the new screening guidelines, but this article should serve as the first step in that process.