Post-hysterectomy Pap tests unnecessary, yet frequently performed

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Here s a bit more evidence that our health care system is fraught with waste and inefficiency: Women who have had a hysterectomy only rarely need a Pap test, but new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show most get the test anyway.

A Pap test, which is used to find abnormal cells in the vaginal vault, vulva or cervix, is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force to be performed once every three years for women ages 21 to 65. Furthermore, experts have long stated that there is no need to screen women who have had a total hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus and cervix).

However, a recent survey done by the CDC, published today in CDC s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that 60 percent of women aged 30 and older who have had a hysterectomy are still getting the test, Given the lack of anticipated productive yield from the procedure, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross, as well as the recommendations for less frequent Pap tests, it seems remarkable that so many women with hysterectomies are still having the test. The uncommon cancers of the external genitalia can be detected with a simple physical exam.