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    Should women over 65 be screened for cervical cancer?

    Women aged 65 and older may have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer when they undergo routine Pap smear screenings, according to results from a new study, but many guidelines only call for the testing in women in that age group who have pre-existing risk factors.

    Researchers constructed matched case-control data sets using the Surveillance Epidemiology End Results-Medicare database that looked at women who received care between 1991 and 1999 and were aged 65 and older. A total of 1267 cervical cancer cases were identified. Each single case was matched to eight controls, based on age and registry geographic location. Conditional logistic regression analysis was used to look at the association between gynecologic screenings and development of invasive cervical cancer.

    More: Are you adhering to HPV co-testing guidelines?

    The researchers found that having a Pap smear during the preinvasive detectable phase (2 to 7 years prior to diagnosis) had a significant negative association with development of invasive cervical cancer (odds ratio [OR] = 0.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.53–0.78). This was reduced after accounting for the estimated prevalence of hysterectomy among the controls (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.32–0.46). The association was strongest for squamous tumors (OR = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.37–0.61). Restricting the subjects to women aged 72 or older did not affect risk.

    The authors concluded that cervical cancer screening in women aged 65 and older reduced the risk of invasive cervical cancer, meaning that such testing in that population may be beneficial.

    NEXT: Placental syndromes and cardiovascular risk

    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.

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