New cervical cancer screening recommendations out Tuesday have started to make old-fashioned Pap smears a thing of the past for women over 30.
Most women may opt for the human papillomavirus test, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says in its latest recommendations.
And women over 30 can safely wait five years in between tests if they feel comfortable doing that, the task force says in the recommendations, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For women under 30, the Pap smear is still the best option, but testing every three years is all right. The recommendations are based on a now-solid body of evidence showing that almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus and that the HPV test is the best way to find evidence that the virus is causing the damage that can lead to cancer.