Lesley from Urraween, Queensland, Australia asked:

Do women stop having routine Pap smears and mammograms at the age of 70?

Woman having a mammogram

Does this mean women over 70 can't get cancer?

Our answer

The pap test has been replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test. All women aged between 25 and 74 who have ever been sexually active should have a Cervical Screening Test. Women aged 25 or older should have their first Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap test (or sooner if the Pap test was abnormal). If it’s been more than two years since your last Pap test, or you have never been screened, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible about being screened. If your Cervical Screening Test is negative (HPV is not detected), you will be due for your next Cervical Screening Test in 5 years. The risk of cervical cancer increases with age, so it is important for women to continue cervical screening until they are at least 70. Women aged 70-74 should have an ‘exit’ Cervical Screening Test. If HPV is not detected, the risk of developing cervical cancer is very low and you can stop having the tests. Women who have not had regular screening tests or have had abnormal results from recent screening tests, may need to have further tests.

Cancer Council supports the BreastScreen Program that invites women between 50 and 74 years of age (as well as 45-49 year olds) to have regular mammograms, as screening is most beneficial in this age range. Women aged 75 and older are eligible to continue participating in the BreastScreen program if they choose: discussion with a GP is recommended to help make an informed decision about the value of ongoing participation in light of other health issues and priorities.

This page was last updated on: June 30, 2014

Similar things people heard