- Reversing years of practice, a federal panel said Tuesday there is insufficient evidence to recommend yearly pelvic exams for healthy women, Stat News reported.
- The draft recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force applies only to women ages 18 and older who are not pregnant and are not at increased risk for specific gynecologic conditions.
- The public has until July 25 to comment on the draft.
“There is not enough evidence to make a determination on screening pelvic exam in asymptomatic women for conditions other than cervical cancer screening, gonorrhea and chlamydia,” task force member Maureen Phipps said in a release. She advised women to discuss any concerns with their doctor.
The recommendation is a reminder of how medical procedures long considered best practice can turn out to have little scientific basis. In recent years, doubt has been cast on other screening tests like mammograms and PSA for prostate cancer.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has long advocated pelvic screening, quickly acknowledged the lack of proof that they benefit asymptomatic women.
The federal task force also called for more research on the benefits and risks of pelvic exams. According to the draft recommendation, false-positive rates for ovarian cancer range between 1.2% and 8.6%, depending on the study, and false-negative rates range from 0% to 100%. Between 5% and 36% of women who had abnormal findings went on to have surgery.
A final recommendation will be issued after the public comments have been reviewed.