Covenant Clinic Ob-Gyn responds to pap smear recommendations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Covenant Clinic Ob-Gyn responds to pap smear recommendations

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- New medical guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say women under 30 can go 2 years between cervical cancer tests.

Previous rules had called for annual pap smears beginning either at age 21 or within three years after first sexual intercourse.

Pap smears can spot pre-cancerous changes in the cervix in time to prevent invasive cancer. Widespread use has halved cervical cancer rates in the U.S. in recent decades.

Dr. Suzy Wing, an Ob-Gyn with Covenant Clinic, says pap smears are important in catching cervical cancer in its early stages.

"Our mainstay is the pap smear exam, which is where we use a brush or a spatula to obtain cells from the surface of the cervix.  Over recent years there have been many groups recommending less frequent pap smears and so most providers have been moving to initial pap smears at age 21 or three years after onset of sexual intercourse, whichever comes first," Dr. Suzy Wing said.

Dr. Wing says the most common cause of cervical cancer is the HPV Virus.  She says part of why the pap smear is such a great test is because it picks up pre-cancerous cells.  The cells can spend several years in the pre-cancer stage before turning into the very deadly cervical cancer.

"I think the goal of these changes and guidelines was again to allow us as physicians to make the best recommendations for our patients.  For many patients yearly pap smears are still going to be necessary. The hope is to avoid some of those unnecessary ones in very young women who's bodies would otherwise heal these abnormal cells," Dr. Wing said.

Dr. Wing says every woman should be talking with their physician about what the right recommendations are for them.  She says the recommendations made Friday are meant as general guidelines for people with no risk factors.

Online Producer: Mike Verlo

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