Are Pap smears still necessary if I'm 62 years old and have had a hysterectomy?
from Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.
A Pap smear is an important, reliable screening test for early diagnosis of cervical cancer. Whether you need routine Pap smear screening after a hysterectomy depends on the type of hysterectomy.
If you had your uterus and cervix removed (total hysterectomy) for a noncancerous condition, you may be able to stop having Pap smears. However, if your hysterectomy was for a cancerous condition or you had your uterus removed but your cervix remains intact (partial hysterectomy), you still need regular Pap smears. In either case, regular pelvic exams and mammograms are recommended.
Your age matters, too. According to American Cancer Society guidelines, you may be able to stop routine Pap smear screening at age 70 if you've had three or more normal Pap smears in a row and no abnormal Pap smears for the past 10 years. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines recommend stopping routine Pap smear screening at age 65 if you've had adequate recent testing and you're not at high risk of cervical cancer. Ask your doctor what's best for you.
And even if you've stopped routine Pap smear screening, it's important to resume screening if you have a new sexual partner — whether you've had a hysterectomy or not.