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What We Should Know About Pap Smears

I was talking to a friend recently and she mentioned she was going for her annual Gyno appointment. She said she was getting a check- up but couldn’t get a pap smear as insurance wouldn’t pay for it because she was over 70. I thought it sounded ridiculous that age would determine whether a woman could have a pap smears; so I started researching to find out if that could be so, and found an article on WebMD: “STUDY: Older women Need Pap Smears, too”  by Charlene Laino.

She writes:

“The American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend discontinuation of cervical cancer screening between 65 and 70 as long as one has no abnormal test results for at least 10 years. A study was done and presented to the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual meeting on Women’s Cancer in 2011, which suggested that women over the age of 70 should continue to get regular pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.”

Image from Ilmicrofono Oggiono/flickr

I was flabbergasted that this should even be an issue. Why should women be excluded from this important screening, especially reading that 1 out of every 10 women over 70 will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer?

There are arguments on the other side. A doctor at Magee-Women’s Hospital/Pittsburgh Medical Center feels the guidelines are not clear. He states that we must take into consideration the life expectancy of women which is appreciable higher than years past.

Information taken from the National Cancer Institutes’ (SEER) database from years 2000-2006 indicate that a total of 18,003 (12%) women aged 70 and older were diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cytological Specimen Showing Cervical Cancer

I always wonder when discussing women’s issues, why we are always at the bottom of the spectrum for over all coverage. I am concerned about the new health care bill that is being reviewed by 13 all white male senators. Why are there no women on this committee, when it is obvious that women’s coverage, under this new bill, is a big consideration for our health care coverage?

I would encourage all of you to talk to your doctor about this issue. Our voices are needed to keep the channels of communication open.

We are WOMEN HELPING WOMEN to make a difference.

“We are remarkable women who accomplishes so much as strong women in a man’s world
We are strong but soft
Strong but caring
Strong but compassionate
We are remarkable women who accomplishes so much by being a giving woman
in a selfish world
We give to our friends
To our family
To everyone
We are remarkable women!”

(Excerpts derived from “You are Remarkable” by Susan Polis Schutz)

Author: Olga Cohen

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