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"US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"

I'm really curious to see what people think of this.  They're saying women only need a Pap test every 3 years (after 30, you can have them every 5 years) & you don't have to start getting them until after you turn 21, even if you're sexually active before that.  

As someone who had an irregular Pap 2 years in a row now & had the cells progress to stage 2, possibly stage 3, I am so NOT ok with this.  Going by the 3-year thing, I had a normal Pap in 2009 & would be going again this fall.  By then, the pre-cancerous cells could have easily became cancerous.  

They're saying the possible complications associated with treatment procedures is the reason it's not necessary to have a Pap every year.  I would prefer to have that stupid colposcopy, cryosurgery, or a LEEP rather than get freaking cancer & have to have my cervix removed or have chemo.  

THISis the article I read. 



Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"

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    I get a pap test every year, and have since I was 16 (I had ex for the first time just before I turned 16, and knew that once you do that you should get a pap smear). My second and 3rd pap smears were irregular so I ended up having a colposcopy and all sorts of not so fun stuff. Thank god everything turned out fine! I haven't had an irregular pap since.

    I personally don't see what the big deal is (in terms of getting a pap smear). I know that some women experience a lot of pain, and maybe since I just find it mildy uncomfortable I don't get why people don't just go every year. I mean really, what's worse, a few minutes of pain once a year or dealing with major cancer because it wasn't detected early because you didn't want to go for a pap smear. Even if you only "need one" every 3 years, just get one every year just in case.
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    I'm really curious as to why there seems to be a recent surge in women's health topics, or more acurately, attacks on it.  I think this is just a way to make it so insurance companies don't have to cover an annual exam, since most plans cover 100% of well-woman appointments.  Which is stupid considering it's probably a lot cheaper to pay for those than it is to pay for cancer treatements.



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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_not-engaged-yet_us-health-panel-pap-tests-needed-only-every-3-years?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:136Discussion:e17ea56f-df81-484f-8b67-5e71af61a327Post:27d81146-fdab-47f3-abaa-df852ea618d7">Re:quot;US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 yearsquot;</a>:
    [QUOTE]That's really not cool. I was told after my last pap that I don't need one for three years... even though I had an irregular one in the past, HPV, and a colposcopy. It strikes me as really dangerous that women our age aren't going to be encouraged to be screened annually anymore, especially when we are on average engaging in more highrisk behaviors during our 20s30s. <strong>I'm also concerned that insurance companies will stop covering annual paps since they're no longer "necessary" every year.</strong>
    Posted by buggle2[/QUOTE]
    Yep. This is what I'm worried about too. Healthcare in this country is so effed up.
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    melmac86melmac86 member
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    edited March 2012
    I have heard this as well. My primary care MD (also my OB) said that they switched to every other year, instead of yearly. I find it absurd. You don't hear of doctors and other authorities in health care suggesting that it would be fine to skip a few months or your monthly self-breast exam. Why? Because it doesn't cost the insurance companies any money to do this monthly.
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    It really, really scares me.  Like I feel outraged right now & maybe it's because I'm taking it so personally.  I am really anxious to see my doctor in 6 months & find out his thoughts on this. 



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    See, I hate getting paps (it always hurts a bunch for me), but... I don't know that I like the idea of only once every 3 years.  Too much can happen in that time, and if cancerous or precancerous cells showed up, I would not want to be waiting possibly 24 months to learn about it (and then need more expensive treatment).  Granted, right now I only get mine yearly because my doctors require it for me to get birth control, but still.

    And my insurance company already finds loop-holes and pays only about half of my exam; I really do not want them to come up with ways to pay even less.
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    It also astounds me that they tell you not to even start until you are 21, even if you are sexually active.  My roommate in college had her first abnormal pap at 17 and had to have the LEEP of pre-cancerous cells at 19.  If she'd waited until she was 21 to even see the doctor, she very likely would have had full stage cancer.

    I'm just not believing how any medical professional truly acting in the best interest of their patients can suggest something so different from what most of our own experiences have proven to be true, unless they are acting under political or corporate interests.

    After all the birth control fights in politics recently (OMG, have you guys seen the ridiculous new bill going through AZ right now?), this is just too much.  Why does our country seem to be taking such giant leap backwards with women's health rights??
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    This is absurd. I had my first abnormal PAP at 19, and then again at 23. I have to go every 6 months as per my doctor right now to make sure no more pre cancer cells show up. I think it is a bad idea to have to wait 3 years and not have to do them until your 21. Just ways for insurance companies to be able to remove benefits. What a sham.
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    A lot of what you ladies hae said makes me so glad I live in Canada. I don't know of any insurance companies here that don't pay for birth control pills. (We do have health insurance here, btw, but it just pays for prescriptions, glasses, dentistry, and like massage therapy and chiropractic and other things the government doesn't pay for). If I wanted a pap smear every month I could, and I wouldn't have to pay for any of it., the government would pay for it.  My DR probably just wouldn't do it.
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    I wish I could get my glasses and dentistry covered by my insurance!
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    Kaiser Permanente has been on the "every 3 years" track for awhile now. I cheated and went in every other year, and no one stopped me. Since I've had probably ten of them in my life and they've always been normal, I guess I'm considered low risk.
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    I wonder how they'll do this as far as BC prescriptions are concerned.  I don't know about you ladies, but my Dr only gives me 12 fills at a time and they won't re-fill a prescription without a pap, so it basically forces you to go annually if you want to stay on BCP.  Will they start giving 3 year prescriptions, because that kind of seems like a long time to not talk to a doctor and make sure that formulation is still working for you.  Yet just another example of why this new suggestion is dumb...
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    edited March 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_not-engaged-yet_us-health-panel-pap-tests-needed-only-every-3-years?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:136Discussion:e17ea56f-df81-484f-8b67-5e71af61a327Post:902d6de8-1ecb-488c-91d2-31b8f05efb8a">Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"</a>:
    [QUOTE]I wish I could get my glasses and dentistry covered by my insurance!
    Posted by xSkiesmostwantedx[/QUOTE]
    US health insurance doesn't cover that kind of stuff? Don't you guys pay like $100's a month in premiums? My health insurance is free through work and I have coverage for drugs, glasses, eye exams, dental work, massage therapy (with an Rx from a doctor), chiropractic visits, physiotherapy, all sorts of stuff. I'm pretty sure too if you don't have health insurance that the government will pay for your drugs if you can't afford them...
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    From what I've read, the actual recommendation of doctors is every other, or every three years for women who DO NOT have a history of abnormal paps for a certain amount of years. 

    The rationale is that cervical cancer is a very slow growing form of cancer, and research has shown no statistically significant difference in the outcome of changes caught after one year vs. three years. Yes, it might be slightly further along, but in most cases, the treatment plan would be the same, and the outcome would be the same. 

    I'm right there with you guys, though, with concerns about how insurance companies might use these guidelines to get out of paying for other annual screenings, and that's definitely not ok.
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    edited March 2012
    I don't have to read the article to disagree. I know 3 people who have went from having perfectly normal paps to abnormal ones only one year later.

    Preventative medicine is the best medicine in my opinion. Recommendations such as this make me worry that women are going to become less concerned about the importance of preventative screening.
    5/27/12
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_not-engaged-yet_us-health-panel-pap-tests-needed-only-every-3-years?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:136Discussion:e17ea56f-df81-484f-8b67-5e71af61a327Post:b87d199f-85d1-4481-a440-63e3cb62fc02">Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't have to read the article to disagree. I know 3 people who have went from having<strong> perfectly normal paps to abnormal ones only one year later</strong>. Preventative medicine is the best medicine in my opinion. Recommendations such as this make me worry that women are going to become less concerned about the importance of preventative screening.
    Posted by jaycee7389[/QUOTE]

    <div>Yes, that's totally possible, but the studies show that these abnormal cells probably would not have progressed enough to require any different course of treatment two years later.</div><div>
    </div><div>I've had abnormal paps as well, where I had a normal one the year before. I got a colposcopy (which doesn't treat anything, it just lets your doctor get a better look at what they're dealing with), then a biopsy, and repeat paps every 6 months. Essentially, nothing was actually done to treat the abnormal cells-the colposcopy and biopsy are both diagnostic, not treatment. The abnormal cells went away on their own within a year. If I had never had the first pap, by the time I had one three years later, it would have been normal, and I wouldn't have needed anything done at all.</div><div>
    </div><div>This is actually a trend in healthcare recently-both mammograms and prostate screenings are now recommended less frequently in low-risk groups. It has to do with decreasing unnecessary interventions. False positives cause a lot of unneeded emotional stress and medical intervention that might not be necessary, and therefore could do more harm than good.</div><div>
    </div><div>I think there is a trend in the general attitude towards healthcare that intervention is always best, or a "better safe than sorry" attitude. A lot of the time, it's better to avoid unnecessary procedures and take a more conservative approach. </div><div>
    </div><div>Obviously, I think this should be between a woman and her doctors. If you're more comfortable having a pap every year, I think you should be able to have one. It just really might not be necessary.</div><div>
    </div>
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    I guess we can agree to disagree then.  

    For me, when it comes to cancer, I would prefer to do everything in my power to prevent it.  I had normal paps my entire life (well, the 9 years I was having themd one) until 2010.  So according to this recommendation, I would have had a normal pap in 2009 & wouldn't have gone back until this year where (going by how the abnormal cells have progressed thus far) I would have had cancer.  Call me crazy, but I much prefer the route I actually took which only happened because I go for a pap once a year. 



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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_not-engaged-yet_us-health-panel-pap-tests-needed-only-every-3-years?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:136Discussion:e17ea56f-df81-484f-8b67-5e71af61a327Post:180db7ad-5ba0-43d8-ad86-e51766d95563">Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years" : US health insurance doesn't cover that kind of stuff? Don't you guys pay like $100's a month in premiums? My health insurance is free through work and I have coverage for drugs, glasses, eye exams, dental work, massage therapy (with an Rx from a doctor), chiropractic visits, physiotherapy, all sorts of stuff. I'm pretty sure too if you don't have health insurance that the government will pay for your drugs if you can't afford them...
    Posted by tdwpg1984[/QUOTE]

    <div>At my job I pay $120 a month for awful insurance which does not include dental and eyes. It is not even offered here.  My copays are high and forget if I ever need to go to the emergency room or see a specialist.</div>
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    edited March 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_not-engaged-yet_us-health-panel-pap-tests-needed-only-every-3-years?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:136Discussion:e17ea56f-df81-484f-8b67-5e71af61a327Post:e61dd8f6-d27a-4aa9-a64b-5bc7ddd47ccd">Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years"</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: "US health panel: Pap tests needed only every 3 years" : Yes, that's totally possible, but the studies show that these abnormal cells probably would not have <span style="font-weight:bold;">progressed enough to require any different course of treatment two years later. I've had abnormal </span>paps<span style="font-weight:bold;"> as well, where I had a normal one the year before.</span> I got a colposcopy (which doesn't treat anything, it just lets your doctor get a better look at what they're dealing with), then a biopsy, and repeat paps every 6 months. Essentially, nothing was actually done to treat the abnormal cells-the colposcopy and biopsy are both diagnostic, not treatment. The abnormal cells went away on their own within a year. If I had never had the first pap, by the time I had one three years later, it would have been normal, and I wouldn't have needed anything done at all. This is actually a trend in healthcare recently-both mammograms and prostate screenings are now recommended less frequently in low-risk groups. It has to do with decreasing unnecessary interventions. <span style="font-weight:bold;">False positives cause a lot of unneeded emotional stress and medical intervention that might not be necessary, and therefore could do more harm than good.</span> I think there is a trend in the general attitude towards healthcare that intervention is always best, or a "better safe than sorry" attitude. A lot of the time, it's better to avoid unnecessary procedures and take a more conservative approach.  Obviously, I think this should be between a woman and her doctors. If you're more comfortable having a pap every year, I think you should be able to have one. It just really might not be necessary.
    Posted by jorja86[/QUOTE]

    I'm not talking "false alarm" abnormal paps, I've had those as well. I mean they legitimately ended up needing treatment and one progressed into cervical cancer.

    The reason that most paps are abnormal (for non malignant reasons) is because the woman either recently had sex, is ill, or has some type of infection. When I had my abnormal pap they did not jump straight into a colposcopy, they waited 6 months, did it again, and then it was normal. I'm actually surprised that they jumped straight into an invasive procedure with one abnormal reading, considering it is common.

    I get the whole "they are doctors" comment, but how many times have doctors changed and re-changed their recommendations? Also, they are human. I'm not saying to not listen to your doctor, because they are obviously more educated and have better insight into the issue...but you sometimes have to listen to yourself as well.
    5/27/12
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    Yeah, I'll still be getting mine once a year, even if I have to pay out of pocket. I see too much cancer to skip anything involving my bat cave.

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    This isn't recent news.  The US health panel has recommended once every 3 years since about 2007 or so.

    None of my doctors heed this advice.  And frankly, since mine are typically normal, I'd prefer not having a pap every 5 minutes.  It's probably because I don't like my doctor though, so that's my own fault :)
    I guess, to tell you the truth, I've never had much of a desire to grow facial hair. I think I've managed to play quarterback just fine without a mustache. - Peyton
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