On August 21, 2018, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced updates to its cervical cancer screening guidelines. USPSTF recommendations now include three options for women and their healthcare providers for cervical cancer screening tests, expanding its recommendations for this potentially life-saving screening.

What’s New?

The major change in the current recommendation is that the USPSTF now recommends screening every five years with high-risk HPV testing (hrHPV) alone as an alternative to screening every three years with Pap testing alone among women aged 30 to 65 years.

The guidance also includes a recommendation for hrHPV and Pap co-testing every five years for women in the same age group.

Why this change?

The USPSTF reviewed evidence to compare different screening methods (such as hrHPV testing alone, hrHPV and Pap co-testing) when decided on new recommendations. You can review the evidence used here.

Does this apply to all women?

No. USPSTF recommends against screening:

  • Women under 21
  • Women older than 65 who have had adequate prior screening and are not otherwise at high risk
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy (with removal of the cervix), unless they have a have a history of a high-grade precancerous lesions.

The guidelines for women aged 21-65 are general recommendations. Some women, such as women with a history of precancerous lesions or cervical cancer, may need to screened more often. Women should always consult their healthcare provider.

Why is screening important?

Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular screening and early detection. Each year in the US alone, more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 women die of the disease. Regular screening with Pap and hrHPV testing—in additon to vaccination—can help prevent cervical cancer and save lives.