By Megan Moore
Amarillo, Texas - How often women should go to the gynecologist is now being debated by doctors everywhere.
A panel of doctors published a report Friday saying getting an annual pap smear is too much because women are being overtreated. But one local doctor says he is not changing his policy just yet.
Pap smears help doctors detect cervical cancer. But Friday, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wants the pap smear frequency to change.
Dr. Alan Waxman, who is part of the panel, says, "prior to the 1980s, there wasn't good science to dictate how often women should get pap tests. Since then, we know more about the disease."
Plus, they say the overtreatment of abnormal pap smears now can lead to preterm labor later on.
But one local gynecologist says he is not convinced he should change what he tells his patients.
Dr. Rusty Robinson, a gynecologic oncologist at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says "this data is important. It is not an absolute at this point. This is not the final word on the subject. I'm still following the American Cancer Society's guidelines."
The American Cancer Society recommends every year.
Dr. Robinson believes if every two years becomes the norm, fewer women will get screened at all because "if we tell people to get a pap smear every year and we know the average is many women will get them every two to three years, some won't get them at all. If you start telling them every two years, then what'll happen is people will get them every three, four five years and maybe even more won't get them at all."
Dr. Robinson says in one of his studies of women recently diagnosed with cervical cancer, the average time those women had last gotten a pap smear was nine years.
The new guidelines by the panel also say routine pap smears should start at age 21 and women 30 and older should wait three years between screenings after three consecutive, clear tests.