DEAR DOCTOR K: I've had a Pap test every year for 20 years, since I was about 25. It's always normal. Do I still need one every year?
DEAR READER: The answer used to be yes. The reason was that doing the test often would help catch cancer of the cervix at its earliest and most curable stage. However, studies showed that less frequent Pap tests for younger women caught just as many early cancers. The studies also showed that many older women with repeatedly normal Pap smears (like you) had an extremely low risk of ever getting cancer of the cervix.