(HealthDay News) — Women vaccinated with earlier versions of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may only need cervical cancer screening every five years starting at age 25 or 30, and women who’ve received the updated vaccine need screening even less often, according to a study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Harvard researchers developed a disease simulation model to estimate the risks and benefits of both the current and potential screening guidelines, taking into account the protection afforded by HPV vaccines.

The investigators concluded that less-intensive screening is needed among HPV-vaccinated women because their risk of developing cervical cancer is quite low. Too much screening opens these women up to false-positive results that require invasive follow-up tests, and can lead to unnecessary health costs. For women who have received the nonavalent vaccine, the researchers recommend testing these women every 10 years starting at age 30 to 35 and ending at age 65. The research team also concluded that doctors could screen women using just an HPV test.

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“This model-based analysis suggests screening can be modified to start at later ages, occur at decreased frequency, and involve primary HPV testing in HPV-vaccinated women, providing more health benefit at lower harms and costs than current screening guidelines,” the authors write.


  1. Kim JJ, Burger EA, Sy S, et al. Optimal cervical cancer screening in women vaccinated against human papillomavirus. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016 Oct 17. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw216. [Epub ahead of print.]