Julia Lagow, DO, obstetrician/gynecologist, Premier Women’s Health Care
Ask the Doc
I'm confused about the recent changes in mammogram screening and pap smear guidelines. What should I do?
Talk with your physician. A government task force created a flurry of controversy last year when it advised that routine mammograms in healthy women be scheduled every two years beginning at age 50. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), however, states more evidence is needed. Until then, it stands by long-standing recommendations for screening mammograms to begin annually at age 40, and even younger in women at higher risk. Ob/Gyns also continue to advocate self-breast exams, which potentially can detect small abnormalities. For Pap smears, women can undergo screenings less frequently because of advances in screening technologies.
For women ages 21–30 with no history of abnormal Pap smears, screenings every two years are recommended. For women older than 30, screenings can be done once every three years. You should discuss with your doctor any potential risk factors you may have that would warrant earlier or more frequent screenings. Yearly exams with a gynecologist are still recommended, as a Pap smear is only one aspect of this exam.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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