The Possibility Of Relief From Your Annual Pap Smear Hell

Some news for the health of your nether regions: one study suggests it's safe for women to get a pap smear and HPV test every three years if your last test was normal, and another says men should also get the HPV vaccine. Let's discuss.

American Society of Clinical Oncology published a raft of clinical studies, several of which deal with screening for cancer, ahead of its annual meeting. The one pertaining to cervical cancer had a sample of 330,000 patients and "confirmed that many women can safely extend screening for a cervical cancer risk to every three years," according to the Wall Street Journal. "It also found that testing for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, alone may be sufficient."

This is already standard practice for some women, mainly those who are 30 and older who test negative for HPV and have normal pap smears. For women who test positive for HPV, close monitoring through pap smears is still recommended, because early detection of cervical cancer is key. Luckily, the FDA just approved a handy new HPV test.

Speaking of HPV, on Tuesday Austrian researchers presented to the American Urological Association their findings that men should get the HPV vaccine too, a long-running public health debate. The vaccine has been approved for men since 2009. This study focused on the prevalence of HPV in foreskins, finding HPV genotypes there even for men and boys who had no clinical symptoms. They write, "Since it is proven that viral transfer results from sexual contact, it is advisable to vaccinate not only girls but also boys before adolescence."

Males Should Get HPV Vaccine Too, Study Says [CNN]
New Cancer Screening Studies Offer Clarity, Room For Debate [WSJ]
Earlier: FDA Approves New HPV Test

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