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Women over 50 still need a Pap test

Some experts say that women over age 50 don’t need a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer, but a new study found that women over 50 have nearly the same risk of cervical cancer as younger women do. Reporting online in the journal BMJ, researchers evaluated data on nearly 220,000 women ages 45 to 54 who’d had three consecutive negative Pap tests and on 445,000 younger women with three negative tests. They found the incidence of cervical cancer among the older women was comparable to what they found among women ages 30 to 44. The older group had 36 cases per 100,000, and the younger group had 41 cases per 100,000. The bottom line? Among women who have regular and normal screening histories, age doesn’t affect cervical cancer risk.