Washington: Annual cancer tests are becoming a thing of the past. New guidelines out Wednesday for cervical cancer screening have experts at odds over some things, but they are united in the view that the common practice of getting a Pap test every year is too often and probably doing more harm than good.A Pap smear once every three years is the best way to detect cervical cancer, the US Preventive Services Task Force says. Last week, it recommended against prostate cancer screening with PSA tests, which many men get every year.Two years ago, it said mammograms to check for breast cancer are only needed every other year starting at age 50, although the American Cancer Society still advises annual tests starting at age 40. Earlier this week, a large study found more false alarms for women getting mammograms every year instead of every other year."The more tests that you do, the more likely you are to be faced with a false-positive test" that leads to unnecessary biopsies and possible harm, said Dr. Michael LeFevre, one of the task force leaders and a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri. "We see an emerging consensus that annual Pap tests are not required for us to see the benefits that we have seen" from screening, he said.
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