4,000 women in the US die of cervical cancer every year, despite the fact it is highly preventable with proper screening. But the form and frequency of screenings has stirred debate.
To avoid unnecessary screenings, no women should receive annual Pap tests, regardless of age, according to updated guidelines the American College of Physicians published yesterday. The fear is that the screenings can do more harm than good, leading to overtreatment. But many patients—and doctors—are unconvinced.
“I try to explain how the technology has advanced so that our testing is better and more reliable. In an effort not to over treat but to capture those who truly have the disease and need treatment, we have been able to space out the screenings,” said Rebecca Stark, chair of the Cleveland Clinic's regional OB-GYN department.
To shed more light on the controversy, NPR provides a detailed, illustrated timeline chronicling the history of cervical cancer screening.