Pap Smear and Cervical Cancer
The Pap smear remains the primary screening test for cervical cancer. If regular Pap smears are performed, most cervical cancers can be detected and treated. In fact, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers.
Despite the benefits of Pap tests, many American women do not take advantage of this important form of cervical cancer screening. Slightly more than 80% of American women have Pap smear screening performed every three years. The majority of those diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer had not had a Pap smear performed in the past five years.
Routine Pap smears are less utilized or available in other nations. Worldwide, cervical cancer mortality rates are higher than the rates in the United States. In many developing countries, cervical cancer has become the major cause of female cancer deaths.
Pap Smear Recommendations
Current guidelines recommend a Pap test for women at least every three years. The first Pap test should be about three years after beginning sexual intercourse but no later than age 21.