By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New recommendations say most women don’t need yearly cervical cancer screenings. But a national doctors group is reminding physicians and their patients that a yearly visit is still essential. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with more.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls first see a gynecologist when they’re between the ages of 13 and 15. You may not get the same tests every year, but doctors say the annual appointment is still important.
Adena Edelberg makes sure to visit her Ob-Gyn every year.
“I’m 45 years old so now is the time to stay on top of things,” said Adena.
Doctors agree, and say that kind of vigilance needs to start even younger.
The latest opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that all women should go to their Ob-Gyn every year, for what’s known as a well visit.
“The annual examination and visit to their Ob-Gyn is really crucial and can help them stay healthy for a very long time,” said Dr. Jill Maura Rabin, an Ob-Gyn.
What happens in the exam depends on the patient’s age and risk factors. The guidelines say at 21, women should start having pelvic exams every year. Pap tests should be done every one to three years.
At age 30, the HPV screening should be added with pap tests. Clinical breast exams, starting at 20, are necessary every one to three years. And starting at 40, those exams should be done every year along with a mammogram.
“If you wait three years it could be too late, whereas the doctor could have caught something on a yearly visit,” said Adena.
These guidelines are for healthy women, and may not apply to some women who have gynecological issues.