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Test This: Get a Pap Smear
Yearly visits to the gynecologist are recommended, but for most women, annual Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer are not. Plan to have your first test at age 21, then retest every three years thereafter. (Precancerous cervical growths typically take years to progress to cancer.) Some guidelines once advised smears for all women within three years of becoming sexually active, regardless of age, but the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently ruled against testing anyone under 21. The reason: When abnormal cells or traces of human papillomavirus—the cause of most cervical cancers—turn up in a young woman, they tend to disappear on their own without treatment.