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Dueling Recommendations About Need For Pelvic Exams Leaves Women Confused
Kaiser Health News

It’s the latest battle over screening: Should healthy women skip annual pelvic exams?

A controversial recommendation last year by the American College of Physicians, which represents the nation’s internists, strongly urged that doctors stop routinely performing the invasive exam on women without symptoms and who are not pregnant.

Citing 60 years of research, the ACP found no evidence that the screening, performed about 63 million times annually at a cost of approximately $2.6 billion, detects cancer or other serious conditions. The exam, researchers reported, did cause harm: One-third of women reported discomfort, pain, embarrassment or anxiety — leading some to avoid care altogether. For roughly 1 percent of women, a suspicious finding triggered a cascade of anxiety-provoking interventions — including tests and surgery, which carry a risk of complications for conditions that nearly always turned out to be benign.

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