Cervical cancer screening by Pap Smears

Posted by: admin on: May 9, 2012

Pap Smear tests every 3 years could help early detection of cancer cervix thereby decreasing morbidity and mortality. Read on to know more.


Regular Pap smears improve the chances of surviving cervical cancer, according to Swedish research confirming the life-saving benefits of screening every three years during a woman’s 20s, 30s and 40s.

The findings about the benefits of widespread testing every three years are particularly relevant for women in this country, where the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force last fall recommended that healthy women 21 to 65 undergo a Pap smear every three years, rather than continuing to make the test an annual medical ritual. The task force noted that over testing has enormous financial and physical consequences for women.

Sweden is a good natural laboratory for studying cervical cancer survival for several reasons.

“In such a highly accessible health system as there is in Sweden with registries that are the envy of the world, this study shows that Pap testing impacts survival from cervical cancer. It also tells us that Pap tests are still an essential part of cervical cancer screening.”

Einstein noted that cervical cancer used to be the No. 1 cancer killer of women in the early 20th century, but does not even make the top 10 prevalent cancers in U.S. women anymore.
However, he said, “In the United States, more than half of women who get cervical cancer have never been screened or have been under-screened.”

The researchers sought to determine whether detection of cervical cancer by screening resulted in a better prognosis or just resulted in earlier diagnosis, and found that the prognosis indeed was better if the testing caught the cancer. Looking at the big picture, they found that screened women whose cancer was picked up by a Pap test had a higher so-called cure rate (meaning they survived cancer-free) than those whose cancers were found after they already had symptoms.

“This is an important observation because this was a prospective study with a decent-sized study group,” said Dr. Matthew Anderson, a gynecologic cancer specialist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. “Outcomes are a whole lot better if you catch the disease early. It’s more treatable, less likely to have developed metastases and can be treated less aggressively with likely fewer side effects and complications.”

Study Doesn’t Address More Frequent Screening

Anderson noted that the study “does little to address the value of cervical cancer screening more frequently than every third year. It does say that some minimum of regular screening is better than none.

Ref: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WomensHealth/pap-smears-save-lives-study-confirms/story?id=15827181&page=2

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