The marketing of pap tests to promote screening for cervical cancer among young women can be misleading and often does not tell the whole story. The ads feature young, happy, healthy, smiling groups of women, engaging in activities such as shopping, eating ice cream, and bonding with friends or mothers; all appealing images being linked to pap tests. The young women in some ads appear dedicated to promoting what they believe to be life saving interventions.
What the ads fail to reveal is the fact that cervical cancer is rare, especially in young women under the ages of 25 – 30, while at the same time these young women are the women who are most at risk of false positive pap test results. The false positive pap test results can lead to additional invasive and potentially harmful tests/procedures. “Evidence considered by the NSC showed cervical cancers among women under 25 were extremely rare and most abnormalities clear up on their own. Screening this group would mean a high number would be unnecessarily referred for further investigation, leading to anxiety, the committee said.” http://www.gponline.com/News/article/1163720/Scotland-raises-cervical-screening-age/#disqus_thread Research has revealed that more harm than good comes from screening young women, and this research has prompted guidelines in Canada to recommend screening not begin until age 25. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/01/07/cervical-cancer-pap-hpv-test.html The ads marketing pap tests do not clarify that the young women targeted by the ads are those same women who are most at risk for often unnecessary colposcopy/biopsy such as the cervical cone biopsy (conization) shown in the following video (WARNING: The following image may be disturbing to some viewers)
Link to video of cone biopsy (conization): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlCh9QgiOso
In addition to promotional and misleading ads, pressure and coercion, women are not being offered information on the benefits and risks (as above) of screening. Nor are they offered a choice. Women are still finding it difficult to obtain medications (esp. birth control pills) and treatment without first submitting to a pap test. Informed consent is still missing from pap tests and pelvic exams: www.kevinmd.com/blog/2009/11/informed-consent-missing-pap-smears-cervical-cancer-screening.html
Thank you to the inspirational commenters of Blogcritics and to Sia for her comment #9375 http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/unnecessary-pap-smears/comments-page-188/#comments