Due to changes in insurance coverage we felt it was important to share this post from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center:
Ladies: Skip the Yearly Pap Smear- Not Your Annual Exam!
Sunday, October 19th, 2014
You’ve probably heard that healthy women no longer need annual Pap tests, or smear, but what about that yearly visit to the ob-gyn? While new guidelines suggest that not all women will need a Pap smear, it’s still very important for women to schedule their routine, annual pelvic exam. Keep in mind that a pelvic exam is so much more than just a Pap smear with regard to a woman’s health.
In recently updated guidelines, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women continue their annual
“well woman” visits. That visit should include a pelvic exam- even if it does not include a Pap test for cervical cancer the group says.
Richard S. Guido. MD a gynecologist at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
says the annual exam is essential to good health care. “There are a lot of good reasons for a woman to see her ob-gyn every year through each cycle of her life,” he says.
Annual visits go far beyond the Pap test, he says. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and weight, screen for sexually transmitted infections, counsel on healthy living, address reproductive and gynecological issues, check your uterus and ovaries, as well as perform a breast exam. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask questions about sexual activity and other issues.
A Vital Screening Tool
The Pap test remains a vital screening tool, says Dr. Guido. It looks for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that can be treated to prevent cervical cancer. The test also can find cervical cancer early when treatment is most effective.
So, how often should you get a Pap test? Here are the current ACOG guidelines:
For low-risk women:
- Under 21: No Pap test necessary, regardless of sexual activity.
- Age 21-29: Pap test every three years.
- Age 30-65: Pap test every three years, or a Pap test every five years if it is combined with the HPV test for the human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer. Women who have received the HPV vaccine still need regular cervical screening.
- Over 65: No test if there has been adequate prior normal screening.
Women who are HIV positive, or who have been treated for a precancerous cervical lesion or cervical cancer, may need to have more frequent screenings, or continue screening beyond age 65.
Women who have had a hysterectomy, including the cervix, do not need to have a Pap test, unless the surgery was done to treat a precancerous cervical lesion or cervical cancer.
Yearly Wellness Exam
Yearly Wellness Exams are recommended for every woman, regardless of age. Your individual insurance policy may dictate certain requirements and exclusions – please check with your insurance provider to determine what your individual policy covers.
Your Annual Wellness Exam is an important part of your yearly healthcare routine.
Other Tests Recommended based on age and risk are:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy information
Consultations are not covered under BC/BS Healthy You! Additional screening for individuals considered to be at high risk for colorectal cancer, as outlined below, may be covered under the appropriate medical portion of your health plan. High-risk individuals in this category are defined as follows:
- Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (first degree relative – parent, sibling or child – under the age of 60 or 2 first degree relatives of any age)
- Known family history of colorectal cancer syndrome
- Personal history of colorectal cancer polyps
*Lipid profile screenings are available to high-risk individuals between the ages of 2 and 17.
High-risk individuals should have their first lipid screening before age 11. A fasting lipid profile is the recommended screening method. If values are within the normal reference range, the patient should be retested in 3-5 years. High risk is defined as:
- Family history of high lipids or early CVD (cardiovascular disease)
- Unknown history, or other CVD risk factors such as:
- Overweight, Obesity, Hypertension or Diabetes.
*Annual glucose screening are available for high-risk individuals between the ages of 3 and 39. High-risk is defined as:
- Family history of diabetes (i.e., parents or siblings)
- Blood pressure of 135/80 or greater
- Race/ethnicity (i.e., African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian or Pacific Islanders, all tend to have a higher predisposition to diabetes)
- Previously diagnosed as pre-diabetic
- Low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
- History of gestational diabetes