Doctors Think Pap Smears Are Too Traumatic for Women

DoctorAnother day, another medical task force concluding that tests we women have long considered essential to our continued good health are unnecessary and overly costly.

In this case, it's yearly Pap smears, those staples of our annual exams, that have come under fire. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced Wednesday that women under 65 only need to have Pap tests every three years, saying studies suggest there is "little added benefit" to more frequent testing.

But here's the part that really makes me mad: The task force cited not only the cost of more frequent screening as a factor (no surprise there), but also, as they often do in such cases, asserted that yearly testing may cause women to have "needless anxiety because of false positive results."

What, are we women so sensitive and emotionally delicate that we can't handle a little potentially bad news in the interest of our good health? In that case, really, why test at all?


Honestly, it's ridiculous. Do these medical experts think women are incapable of understanding that sometimes tests yield positive results only to have that finding cleared up in follow-up tests? Do they think we'd rather not know that we might have cervical cancer, if there is, in fact, the possibility that we do? Who isn't willing to put up with a little stress in the interest of our health?

Personally, I'd be fine with a false positive result if it was cleared with a negative follow-up. At least I'd know I was getting a complete health picture. And if that positive result was confirmed, I'd sure as hell rather know that right away than having to wait three years and possibly finding the cervical cancer at a more advanced stage. Wouldn't you?

Would you rather get a Pap test every year, or only every three years?


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