"For the last 15 years guidelines have suggested that women with several prior normal Pap tests can be screened less often than every year. We've demonstrated how much extra risk can be expected if such a woman elects to extend her screening interval to three years," said lead author George Sawaya, MD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
The study notes that for women over age 30 who have already had a minimum of three negative, consecutive annual Pap tests, extending the screening interval from one year to three years carries a small risk, on the order of 3 or fewer cancers per 100,000 people, according to the researchers.
"As a comparison, this risk is similar in magnitude to annual breast cancer incidence in men ages 45-64 (1 to 4 per 100,000). In fact, this risk is smaller than the risk associated with everyday events such as driving, jogging, and walking, which carry estimated annual risk of death ranging from 3 to 16 per 100,000, said K. John McConnell, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University and a co-investigator on this study.
According to Sawaya, a Pap test is the standard way physicians screen for malignant cells or cell changes that might develop into cervical cancer. Since its widespread adoption in the 1960s, health care providers have performed the Pap test primarily as part of a routine annual pelvic exam.
The major goal of screening is to identify precancerous cervical lesions, the treatment of which prevents cervical cancer. Pap test screening has been credited with profound decreases in cervical cancer in the US.
Researchers analyzed 1.2 million screening result records from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program administered by t
Contact: Eve Harris
University of California - San Francisco