End of an era — it’s official
For once we have a test that is proven to decrease the risk of death substantially, is mostly non-invasive, and is accessible to most women.
You know what…it has to go!
That’s right. According to the New York Times, the annual Pap smear is “officially a thing of the past.”
Believe me, they’re not using that word lightly. You can bet it’s official.
Brace yourself for some of the worst health news for women I’ve ever come across.
Caught between the corners
For more than half a century, the annual Pap smear has been the accepted standard for all women between the ages of 21 and 65. But a few days ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force adopted new Pap smear guidelines.
The new core guideline, for women 21 to 65, now recommends a Pap smear once every three years, or once every five years if HPV testing is done at the same time.
These new guidelines are also backed by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
That’s what you call a brilliant triangulation: The U.S. government in one corner, the most influential cancer group in the U.S. in another corner, and the most influential gynecology group in the third corner. And every woman in the country is trapped in the middle by this irrefutable guideline.
I don’t need a crystal ball to figure out how this is going to play out.
First, insurance companies will adjust their coverage to conform to the new guidelines. Sure, you’ll still be able to get a Pap smear every year, but you can say goodbye to most of that coverage.
Over the course of five years, your insurance will probably only cover Pap smear screening one time, along with an HPV test. And I suppose if you’ve got really good insurance you’ll be covered for one Pap smear every three years.
Obviously, this is a radical departure from the yearly Pap smear, so many women won’t feel comfortable with the reduced screenings. And that’s when their doctor will turn on the reassuring tones to recommend the Gardasil HPV vaccine — you know, just to be on the safe side.
And yes, the vaccine IS covered, or soon will be by most insurers, because it’s recommended by all three of the organizations in the brilliant triangulation.
Knowing that, I probably wouldn’t be here today if I’d had to wait 3 years — or 5! — for a Pap smear. I think this is the most irresponsible kind of marketing-based medicine.
It is an incredible scam — putting women at greater risk of cancer in order to sell more vaccines. Big Pharma fingerprints are ALL OVER this one!
Talk to your gynecologist NOW and let him know you do want your Pap, and he can keep his vaccine.
“Screening for Cervical Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement” Annals of Internal Medicine, Published online 3/14/12, annals.org