By Saundra Young, CNN Medical Producer
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The new mammogram recommendations out earlier this week caused quite an uproar. Now comes another change in screening tests for women - this one for cervical cancer.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) releases new guidelines Friday, saying women don't need their first cervical cancer screening - or Pap test - until they're 21 years old. And, they don't need followup examinations as often as previously recommended.
According to the guidelines, women younger than 30 should be screened every two years, instead of annually. Women 30 or older can be examined once every three years.
"The tradition of doing a Pap test every year has not been supported by recent scientific evidence," said Dr. Alan G. Waxman, who developed the document for ACOG's Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology. "A review of the evidence to date shows that screening at less frequent intervals prevents cervical cancer just as well, has decreased costs, and avoids unnecessary interventions that could be harmful."
The current guidelines, from 2003, recommend that women get a Pap test three years after they begin having sexual intercourse, but no later than age 21. And that women younger than 30 have an annual exam. For women 30 or older, the recommendation was every two to three years, if they'd had three consecutive negative Pap tests.