New study highlights importance of cervical cancer screening for older women after age 65
Cervical cancer is often thought of as a disease that primarily affects young women. Because of this, many older women fail to keep up with appropriate screening as they age. While current guidelines indicate that screening can be stopped for average risk patients after age 65, many women lack the appropriate amount of screening history to accurately assess their risk. A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that incidence rates of cervical cancer do not begin to decline until 85 years of age among women without a hysterectomy and that women over 65 who have not been recently screened may benefit from continued surveillance.
“An older woman who has not had her cervix surgically removed has the same or even higher risk of developing cervical cancer compared to a younger woman,” said lead investigator Mary C. White, ScD, Chief of the Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA. “Women who have not had a hysterectomy need to continue to be screened until age 65, and possibly later if they have not been screened for many years or are at special risk, consistent with current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations.”
In 2013, one-fifth of cervical cancer cases and one-third of cervical cancer deaths occurred among women 65 years of age and older. Current recommendations say that screening can be stopped at age 65 if an adequate testing history indicates consistently negative results. Three consecutive negative cytology results or two consecutive negative co-test results within the last 10 years, with the most recent test within the last 5 years, are considered sufficient reason to stop screening average risk women after age 65.
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