When should I get a pap test? How often?
There are new recommendations for pap tests from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG.) It is now suggested that most young women have the first pap test at age 21 years. The research shows that the young woman’s immune system will clear any of the viruses that lead to cervical cancer prior to this age. If her pap test is negative, the American Cancer Society says that a woman can wait and do the cancer screening test every 2 years. If a woman is 30 and has had 3 negative or normal pap screening tests in a row, ACS and ACOG believe she could even do the cancer screening test every 3 years.
Of course, some women have expressed the concern that they do not want to wait 2 to 3 years to find out if they have a problem and would rather get the pap test every year when they come in for their annual well woman check-up.
If the pap test is in that gray area, normal but signs of a high risk HPV virus, the woman should definitely have a repeat pap in at least one year if not in 6 months.