DO POST-MENOPAUSAL WOMEN REALLY NEED CERVICAL SMEAR TESTS ?
In the United Kingdom postmenopausal women who are at little risk of developing cervical cancer remain in the screening programme until the age of 64. In this week’s BMJ, Chris Sherlaw-Johnson and colleagues from University College London and Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham use a mathematical model to assess whether these low risk women could be safely removed from the screening programme. They conclude that withdrawing appropriate women at age 50 or 55 would lead to a rise in the incidence of invasive cervical cancer of about 600 new cases per year, but would free many thousands of women from the stress and anxiety of unnecessary screening. It would release substantial extra resources for the health service which could be used more effectively in the screening programme to counteract a possible increase in cancer incidence or could be channelled into other aspects of health care.
AlphaGalileo Foundation. February 1999.