Dr. Cyril O. Spann, Jr., MD from Atlanta Gynecologic Oncology Specialists answers a reader’s question about cervical cancer screening tests for teens.
Q: My daughter is 19 years old and has become sexually active. When should she get her first Pap cervical cancer screening test?
A: The guidelines for cervix cancer screening have changed dramatically over the last decade because of improvement in Pap screening cytology technology and the advent of HPV (human papilloma virus) co-testing. No longer is the recommendation to get Pap smears yearly starting at age 18. The American Cancer Society now recommends that screening starts at age 21, so her first Pap should be at that age. Between the ages of 21 and 29, it should be every three years, assuming that the test results are negative.