By Holly Lebowitz Rossi

Women between ages 21 and 65 should only receive Pap smear tests, which screen for abnormalities in the cervix, every 3-5 years, rather than every year.  This is the message of two separate sets of recommendations released last week by the US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society.

The new recommendation impacts not only women's health in general, but parents whose daughters have received the HPV vaccine against some types of cervical cancers.  For one thing, the new recommendations suggest that girls begin receiving Pap tests at age 21, rather than age 18 as was previously the norm.  Girls who received the HPV vaccine still need to receive Pap smears every 3-5 years, though.

Image: Speculum with Pap smear swab, via Shutterstock.

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