Ob-gyn groups nix cancer guidelines

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and two related medical organizations are taking issue with a national task force's recommendations that women wait until age 25 to start cervical cancer screening.

In a newly released position paper, the SOGC, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the Society of Canadian Colposcopists say age 25 is too late to begin Pap testing because precancerous and cancerous lesions may have developed earlier in some women.

The groups say young women should have their first Pap smear at age 21 and have them done every two to three years.

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, which issued national guidelines in early January, advises that women wait three years between screenings, which should continue to age 69. For years, women were told to get annual Pap smears, though that interval has been stretched in recent years in a number of countries.

Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of SOGC, said the task force was correct in saying that waiting until 25 would have little effect on the number of women under 25 who die from cervical cancer, which usually is a relatively slow-growing cancer.

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