What are the screening recommendations for cervical cancer?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cecelia H Boardman, MD; Chief Editor: Warner K Huh, MD  more...
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In 2014, the American College of Physicians (ACP) issued a new clinical guideline that does not recommend routine screening pelvic examinations in asymptomatic, nonpregnant adult women. [52, 53] The expert panel cited not only a lack of strong evidence to support such screening but also the potential psychological/physical harms of false-positive results. [52, 53, 54] Moreover, it noted that screening pelvic examinations have a low diagnostic accuracy for detecting ovarian cancer or bacterial vaginosis. [52] The ACP recommends that screening examinations for cervical cancer should be limited to visual inspection of the cervix and to the use of cervical swabs for human papillomavirus. [52]

Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends routine annual pelvic examination in all women aged 21 years and older, [1, 2] it recognizes that there are no data to support such examinations in low-risk asymptomatic patients. [53, 54]

Previously, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP), and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) issued joint guidelines for cervical cancer screening. [3] In 2012, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued updated guidelines whose recommendations are consistent with those of the ACS, ASCCP, and ASCP. [4]

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