Years ago a number of articles in the popular press indicated that the Papanicolaou test (aka pap smear) was obsolete, being replaced by vaccines and genetic tests. For example:
New advanced DNA test could make pap smears obsolete (KTRE, Apr 09, 2009):
Women over 30 could drop the annual pap smear and instead get a DNA test every three, five or ten years. The women we talked to said the pap smear does not bother them. "It's better to be safe than sorry, waiting three years is a long time, once a year is pretty accurate," said Becca Tatum, patient.
Making Pap Smear Obsolete (Put in a good word, March 23, 2009):
Research shows that a DNA test is more accurate in finding cervical cancer. if so, this would be a major advancement in cancer detection and could make the pap smear test obsolete. Let’s hope that this research becomes a reality.
No more Pap smears? The new HPV vaccine may relegate cervical swipes to the trash bin. (Salon.com Jan 17, 2007):
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the recommended annual Pap test -- which screens for precancerous lesions and typically comes complete with a drafty gown and an icy speculum -- is likely to become less relevant as cervical cancer becomes less common.
And yet, it's apparent that in some places continue to perform the Pap smear, e.g. in this Globe and Mail article with a related question on health care in Canada Is it okay to have two family doctors?.
Is the Pap test really obsolete, as those 2007-2009 articles suggest? Are DNA tests and vaccines superior in every way to pap smear, or does it have other advantages of its own? Is it simply too soon to expect that the new replacement genetic test be prevalent?