The pap smear is a screening test for cancer of the cervix. The age to stop screening depends on how frequently you have been screened in the past and your specific medical situation.
In general, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Cancer Society agree that women over age 65 who have had regular screening in the previous 10 years should stop cervical cancer screening as long as they haven’t had any serious pre-cancers (like CIN2 or CIN3) found in the last 20 years. Regular screening means at least 3 consecutive negative pap smears or 2 consecutive negative co-tests (pap smear and human papilloma virus, HPV, testing) within the last 10 years, with the most recent test performed within the past 5 years.
Women with a history of CIN2 or CIN3 should continue to have testing for at least 20 years after the abnormality was found. Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) should stop screening (such as Pap tests and HPV tests), unless the hysterectomy was done as a treatment for cervical pre-cancer (or cancer). Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix (called a supra-cervical hysterectomy) should continue cervical cancer screening according to the mentioned guidelines.
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Regular visits with your gynecologist provide an opportunity to review your current health situation and may uncover problems related to your female health. Many women notice changes to their bladder habits or may experience pelvic organ prolapse as they age. Also, sexual discomfort may increase. We can help with these issues and provide so much more than just a pap smear!