Recommendations for testing continue to change. A pelvic exam with or without a Pap test should occur annually. Most women undergo their first routine annual exam between age 18 and 21 or when they become sexually active, whichever occurs first.
The incidence of cervical cancer in the United States has decreased by more than 50% in the past 30 years because of widespread screening with cervical cytology, including the Pap test (Pap smear). New technologies, including HPV testing, continue to evolve, as do guidelines for managing abnormal results. Ob-gyns play a leading role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical dysplasia before it becomes cervical cancer.