Why PAP smear guidelines are being ignored

Stories are coming out regarding the recent JAMA article concluding that the USPSTF recommendations on PAP smears are being ignored:

Twenty-two million US women 18 years and older have undergone hysterectomy, representing 21% of the population. The proportion of these women who reported a current Pap smear did not change during the 10-year study period. In 1992 (before the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations), 68.5% of women who had undergone hysterectomy reported having had a Pap smear in the past 3 years; in 2002 (6 years after the recommendation), 69.1% had had a Pap smear during the same period (P value for the comparison = .22). After accounting for Pap smears that may have preceded a recent hysterectomy and hysterectomies that spared the cervix or were performed for cervical neoplasia, we estimate that almost 10 million women, or half of all women who have undergone hysterectomy, are being screened unnecessarily.

Is it habit? Is it patient expectation? Or perhaps physicians are being defensive – maybe the lawsuit regarding PSA screening is in the back of their minds.


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