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CDC: Many women with hysterectomies still get unnecessary Pap tests

NEW YORK Many women still get screened for cervical cancer even if they have had a hysterectomy, a new study reveals.

A government survey released Thursday shows about 60 percent of women with hysterectomies recently had a Pap test.

Experts say some of the tests may have been warranted, but the others were probably done because Paps have long been part of annual doctor visits.

In 2012, the National Cancer Institute estimated there would be 12,170 new cases of cervical cancer and 4,220 deaths. A Pap test is used to find abnormal cells in the cervix before they turn into cervical cancer. If cervical cancer is found during a test, most early stage forms can be treated easily.

Most women get one every three years, and it is not recommended for people who are 65 and older. Recently, the American College of Obstetricians said while every three years is suitable for women ages 21 to 29, those who are 30 to 65 may only need tests every five years. While the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) still recommends tests every three years for people 21 to 65, the panel of medical advisers added in March 2012 that it advocates for a test only every five years for women 30 to 65 who get an HPV test, and no testing for women under the age of 21. The recommendations marks a growing movement to delay the time between each Pap test.

For years, experts have said there's no need to screen women who had a total hysterectomy for reasons other than cancer. A total hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed thousands of women ages 30 and older who had a hysterectomy. Those who recently had Pap tests fell from 73 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2010.

About 60,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the U.S., according to the CDC. IT is the second most frequent major surgical procedure among reproductive-aged women.

The research was published Jan. 4 in the CDC's journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.