The American Cancer Society (ACS) announced an updated cervical cancer screening guideline that calls for less and more simplified screening, which reflects the rapidly changing landscape of cervical cancer prevention in the United States.
The updated guideline recommends that individuals with a cervix initiate cervical cancer screening at age 25, continuing through age 65, and that primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing (HPV testing without the Pap test) every five years be preferred method of testing. The guideline recommends that using HPV testing in combination with Pap test (called co-testing) every five years or Pap tests alone every three years are acceptable options for now, as not all labs have transitioned to primary HPV testing.
The American Cancer Society’s previous cervical cancer screening guideline, which was released in 2012, called for screening starting at age 21. Since then, HPV vaccination rates have improved in the United States and data suggest vaccination has led to a drop in rates of precancerous cervical changes, the precursors to cancer. In addition, cervical cancer incidence is low in individuals age 20-24, screening has not been shown to lower the rate of cancer in women in this age group, and there are potential harms related to the treatment of precancerous cells identified by screening- including preterm birth.
Also, most HPV infections in women in this age group become undetectable in one to two years. Those factors led the ACS to move the recommended age to initiate cervical cancer screening to 25.
ACS news story
Cervical cancer screening page on cancer.org
Published CA journal manuscript
Published CA journal patient page
PLEASE NOTE: The Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) continues to follow the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) cervical cancer screening guideline. Click here for more information on the August 2018 USPSTF screening guideline.