According to new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists most women do not need cervical cancer screening more frequently than once every 3 to 5 years.
1. Women under 21 do not need a Pap test
2. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 years should get a Pap test every 3 years.
4. Women age 30-65 who have a negative Pap test should be tested every 5 years both with the Pap test (using the conventional Pap or the liquid-based method) PLUS with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. If HPV testing is not available, women can get a Pap test by itself (without HPV testing) every 3 years.
5. Women over 65 years of age should not be screened anymore after adequate negative prior screening results.
Here are the full guidelines.
The College continues recommending that women younger than 21 should not be screened for cervical cancer (or HPV) regardless of whether they have had sexual intercourse. Although the prevalence of HPV is high among sexually active adolescents, invasive cervical cancer is very rare in women younger than 21. The immune system, particularly in young women, effectively clears the HPV infection in an average of eight months. The majority of cervical abnormalities that occur related to HPV infection in this age group typically spontaneously resolve and require no treatment.