I've written several times about the importance of HPV vaccination for all young teens, and commented that if all teens were vaccinated HPV would vanish, and so would cervical cancer and my type of oral cancer. PAP smears would no longer be necessary.
Now there's news that PAP smears may already be on their way out.
DO NOT take this as advice to stop getting PAP smears as recommended!
When the PAP smear was developed (by Georgios Papanikolaou) it was a breakthrough in women's health. It has saved millions of lives by this point. But we subsequently discovered that most cervical cancers are caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Thus, detection of persistent HPV infection is a much earlier indicator of risk for cervical cancer than PAP smears.
Here is a STAT News article that covers the topic well. One highlight:
There are signs it’s catching on. Last year, the Netherlands wholesale switched from Pap tests to HPV tests, and Australia is set to follow in its footsteps this year. The journal Preventive Medicine devoted an entire issue to HPV testing in February. Clinical trials of at-home HPV testing are underway across the US, Europe, and Canada.