question and answer
Do nuns need Pap tests?
May 2003
MICHEL CHIASSON, MD, of Cheticamp, NS, states, “Colleagues in my office are debating whether nuns or other female patients who’ve never had sexual intercourse should have Pap tests for cervical cancer screening. Pap guidelines never seem to address this issue directly, only referring to patients who are ‘no longer sexually active.’” He then inquires, “Is the incidence of cervical cancer unrelated to human papillomavirus (HPV) so low that screening with Paps isn’t warranted? If not, should internal exams still be done with a complete physical exam?”
As evidence continues to mount that cervical dysplasia is related to HPV, there seems to be very little evidence that routine Pap screening is necessary in nuns. Pelvic examinations, on the other hand, are still needed. I’d suggest that one Pap be done with a pelvic examination, and perhaps repeated every five years or so. FW
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