New Cancer Guidelines a Political Move?

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For the second time this week, women heard about changes to long-held cancer screening guidelines.

The American College of Obsetricians and Gynecologists announced that most women in their 20s should get a pap smear every two years, instead of annually, to catch cervical cancer. Women over 30 should wait three years between exams.

This change coincides with a separate debate over the age and frequency that women should get mammograms.

Donald Donahue, a public health expert from the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, spoke with CBN News about whether women should be concerned that these new guidelines have become political.

The two recommendations come at a time of intense debate over health-care reform. Republicans are contending the new findings are how medical rationing starts.

Under the pending legislation, "nothing would prohibit the federal government from deciding if tests, treatments and procedures are too expensive, and therefore, unnecessary," Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican Whip, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a physician, said in a joint statement.

The new guidelines for pap smears also say:

  • Routine Paps should start at age 21. Previously, ACOG had urged a first Pap either within three years of first sexual intercourse or at age 21.
  • Women 30 and older should wait three years between Paps once they've had three consecutive clear tests. Other national guidelines have long recommended the three-year interval; ACOG had previously backed a two- to three-year wait.
  • Higher-risk women, such as those with HIV, other immune-weakening conditions or previous cervical abnormalities, need more frequent screening.

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