In 2016, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new cervical cancer screening guidelines. The big news?

Yearly Pap tests may be a thing of the past for many women. How often you should get screened for cervical cancer now depends on your age and health history.

While less frequent Pap smears are recommended for many women, ACOG still encourages a yearly visit to your gynecologist to discuss health maintenance and lifestyle issues, as well as whether a pelvic exam is needed.

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Here are the new cervical cancer screening recommendations released by ACOG in 2016:

  • Under age 21: You do not need cervical cancer screenings.
  • Age 21-29: Have a Pap test every 3 years.
  • Age 30-65: Have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. Co-testing is preferred.
  • Age 65 and older: You do not need screenings if you have no history of cervical changes and 2 negative Pap/HPV co-tests in a row or 3 negative Pap tests alone in a row within the last 10 years. The most recent test should be performed within the past 5 years.
  • When you may need more frequent screenings: If you have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap test results, are HIV-positive, have a weakened immune system or were exposed to the drug DES before birth, talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened.
  • If you have had a hysterectomy: You don’t need screenings if your surgery was for a benign condition and your cervix was removed. Continue testing if you have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal test results, or if your cervix was not removed.
  • If you had the HPV vaccination: You should still follow recommended cervical screenings for your age group.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 10, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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