View all recommendations from this society

February 14, 2017; Updated October 3, 2019

Don’t perform cervical cytology (Pap tests) or HPV screening in patients under age 21 who have a normal immune system.

Cervical cancer is rare in adolescents and screening does not appear to lower that risk. Screening adolescents for cervical cancer exposes them to the potential harms of tests, biopsies, and procedures, without proven benefit.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

As a national medical specialty society with membership across multiple disciplines and differing healthcare providers, including doctors and advanced practice nurses, the ASCCP (The Society for Lower Genital Tract Disorders) relies on input from its committee structure and governance for document development. For the Choosing Wisely campaign, the list was obtained through expert discussion of members of the Practice Committee. A literature search was conducted related to each item. The list was then ratified by the Society’s Executive Committee and Chief Medical Officer. Due to the complexity of language around cervical cancer screening, several items use more than one term to describe the same concept (i.e., cervical cytology/Pap test, and high-grade cervical dysplasia/CIN 2/3). This was done intentionally to avoid confusion, and the statements include all terms thought to be important by members of the ASCCP. All comments from the Executive committee were incorporated into the final approved list.


American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology screening guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson HW, Killackey M, Kulasingam SL, Cain J, Garcia FA, Moriarty AT, Waxman AG, Wilbur DC, Wentzensen N, Downs LS Jr, Spitzer M, Moscicki AB, Franco EL, Stoler MH, Schiffman M, Castle PE, Myers ER; American Cancer Society; American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Am J Clin Pathol. 2012 Apr;137(4):516-42.
CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 May-Jun;62(3):147-72.
J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2012 Jul;16(3):175-204.