ACOG Statement on Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention

November 5, 2014

Washington, DC -- John C. Jennings, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released the following statement regarding the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Vital Signs report on cervical cancer screening:

“It is disappointing that millions of American women – more than 11 percent – have not been screened for cervical cancer in the last five years. Data have demonstrated that widespread cervical cancer screening leads to a reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality. In fact, most cervical cancer occurs in women who have never been screened or who have been inadequately screened.

“Current ACOG guidelines recommend that women ages 21 to 29 should be tested through cervical cytology every three years, and women ages 30 to 65 be co-tested with cervical cytology (Pap test) and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every five years.

“The impact of cervical cancer screening on women’s health is dramatic. Widespread screening has decreased the incidence of cervical cancer in the United States by more than 50% in the past 30 years. In 1975, the rate was 14.8 per 100,000 women. By 2008, it had been reduced to 6.6 per 100,000 women. Mortality from the disease has undergone a similar decrease, from 5.55 per 100,000 women in 1975 to 2.38 per 100,000 women in 2008.

“We must eliminate the disparity in current cervical cancer screening, and we also must continue to advocate for adoption of the HPV vaccine, which can also help to lower cervical cancer rates; according to some estimates, for every year that HPV vaccine adoption does not increase, an additional 4,400 women will develop cervical cancer.

“We have come far in our battle with cervical cancer, and we have tools to even further reduce the toll of this disease on American women. Now, we must increase access to preventive care, including cervical cancer screening, for all women.”

For more information, please read ACOG’s Practice Bulletin on Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

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