Albuquerque Journal (01.09.12) - Thursday, January 12, 2012
With recommendations shifting away from annual Pap testing,
some doctors worry that women will skip their annual check-
ups, too. The wellness visit has to be reframed, said Dr.
Susan Baum, medical director and epidemiologist with the New
Mexico Department of Health's Chronic Disease Prevention &
"There are so many other ways you can use that time. It's not
just about your breast and your cervix," Baum said. Doctors
also can address health concerns such as contraception, STDs,
smoking, and drinking.
"The annual Pap test is dead," said Dr. Alan Waxman, an OB/GYN
professor at the University of New Mexico's School of
Medicine, and the lead author of 2009 American College of
Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines that call for Pap testing
every two years. "What we're trying to do is use
scientifically based recommendations that avoid over-screening
The US Preventive Services Task Force in October announced
draft guidelines recommending initially having Pap tests at
least every three years, with the first within three years of
sexual activity onset or age 21 (whichever is first).
"If their Pap smears are the sole driving force, then does
their general health care kind of go out the window?" asked
Dr. Kiley Manetta, an OB/GYN at Presbyterian Medical Group.
She prefers a case-by-case approach and endorses annual
testing for women ages 20-30. If a doctor is already doing a
pelvic exam, it is worth doing a Pap, she said.
Final guidelines are expected this year. New Mexico's early
detection program offers free cervical screening every two
years to low-income women ages 30-64 without insurance. After
three consecutive normal results, tests are every three years.
Testing policies will not change until the federal guidelines
are confirmed, Baum said. For more information, telephone 1-