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Cervical Cancer Screenings Conducted Too Frequently Despite Guidelines, Study Says

Cervical Cancer Screenings Conducted Too Frequently Despite Guidelines, Study Says

August 22, 2011 — Many physicians recommend women receive the human papillomavirus and Pap test for cervical cancer screening on an annual basis, despite guidelines that call for screenings every three years, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, MedPage Today reports.

For the study, researchers examined 2006 data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which garnered responses from 376 private-practice physicians and 216 physicians at hospital outpatient centers.

The report found that about 51% of physicians ordered co-testing and only 14% recommended re-screening every three years for women with normal results.

According to MedPage Today, the American Cancer Society in 2002 and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2003 recommended co-testing for women age 30 and older. When the results are normal on both tests, women can wait three years before their next screening, the guidelines say.

The researchers wrote that the findings "suggest a need for continued surveillance and data collection on adherence to cervical screening guidelines, and perhaps an open dialogue on provider, patient, and systems preferences for prevention and management of cervical cancer and abnormalities" (Fiore, MedPage Today, 8/18).