Are they crazy?

I came across something today that made me furious. There’s a movement among some experts to change the current cervical cancer screening recommendations. Right now, it’s recommended that screening begin at age 21 once a year. If you have normal pap smears three years in a row, you can move to being screened once every three years. They also state that women under 30 not be tested for HPV, since it’s assumed that most women in their 20’s have the virus and that for many of them, it will go dormant within 2 years. Women who test positive for HPV over 30 years old (like yours truly) are thought to have persistent infections and are to be monitored closely. Supposedly, this was to reduce the number of women who were being treated unnecessarily for a condition which regresses in a lot of cases. However, some experts are now proposing to change the screening recommendations to where women over age 21 years only get pap smears once every three years, regardless of prior screening results. They also recommend against screening for the HPV virus for women over 30 unless warranted. Again, this is supposed to reduce the number of unnecessary tests and invasive procedures that women undergo if there’s an issue. They also claim the change is needed because cervical cancer isn’t that common these days due to widespread screening and it often isn’t detected unless the woman has gone more than 5 years without being screened.  Personally, I think the proposed changes are BS and it’s being done more in the interest in saving money than in saving people’s lives. In a lot of articles on the internets, it’s stated that cervical cancer doesn’t progress very quickly, so waiting three years between screenings should do no harm. There are some women who’d disagree-those who went from moderate or severe dysplasia to a cervical cancer diagnosis within a one or two year span. Waiting three years between screenings could literally mean the difference between life and death for me. Also, conventional pap smears alone don’t tell you if you have the HPV virus. They just detect abnormalities in your cervix. And the test gives false readings around 30% of the time. The HPV test is crucial to see exactly what the abnormality is. It’s also more accurate than the conventional pap test. It also gives false readings only around 5% of the time. I’d hate to think how I would fare if the more accurate HPV test is never given to me. I’d also hate to think about the possible increases in cervical cancer rates or deaths that might result if these recommendations become standard practice. Each human life is precious and each deserves to live a life free from cancer – ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS PREVENTABLE! That is the point these people in some ivory tower making these dangerous recommendations miss. Unlike some other forms of cancer, cervical cancer is preventable and early detection plays the greatest role in ensuring less and less women each year contract it. While the hope is the vaccine will be another form of prevention, it still is in it’s early years and quite controversial. Early detection on the other hand is provable and something we now know prevents the development of cervical cancer if proper care is given.

You can see more info on these recommendations here and comment on them. The more people that voice their objection, the more likely these ivory tower so-called experts will back off. My life may well depend on them backing off. Look what happened when Bank of America proposed a $5 fee just for using your debit card. People were so outraged that they backed off. Let’s tell them that women’s lives are valuable and that we deserve the best care possible.

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