Could Making Cancer Screening Simpler Increase Women's Risk?

An influential task force says that either a Pap test or an HPV test is enough to screen for cervical cancer. But key medical groups say that strategy could miss cancers, especially in minority women.

Pap tests look for cervical cancer cells, shown here in pink. Source: Science Source

A proposal to simplify cervical cancer screening could end up missing some cancers, researchers and patient advocates say. And that could be especially true for minority women.

Latina and black women already have the highest rates of cervical cancer in the U.S., and more than half of women diagnosed with the disease were not screened in the 5 years before their diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In September, the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued for women ages 30 to 64, saying they could either get a Pap smear every three years or a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years. (The USPSTF did not recommend changes for any other ages.) That's, which recommended with both the HPV and Pap tests every five years. And that's what two dozen other medical organizations still recommend.

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