The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women aged 21 to 30 be screened for cervical cancer every two years and that women over 30 who have had three negative (normal) Pap and HPV tests in a row be screened every three years.
Meijer thinks that even though the protocol for screening women over 30 in the United States is every three years, it can safely be extended to five years.
However, women who have abnormal tests after treatment need additional testing, because their risk of developing the disease again is high over the next five years, Meijer noted.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Elizabeth A. Poynor, a gynecologic oncologist and pelvic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that "this provides a framework for how to follow people after they have been treated for precancerous cervical lesions."
For Poynor, the important message is that if a women does not have a recurrence after two years, her risk of developing precancerous cervical lesions reverts to the same risk as women who have never had precancerous cervical lesions -- that is, they have the same risk as other women in the general population.
"These women can go back to accepted population screening in the United States, which is a little bit more stringent [than that in the Netherlands]," she said. "Women two years after being appropriately treated for precancerous cervical lesions can be reassured that they go back down to a population risk."
For more information on cervical cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
SOURCES: Chris Meijer, M.D., Ph.D., department of pathology,Vrije University Medical Center, Amsterdam; Elizabeth A. Poynor, M.D., Ph.D., gynecologic oncologist and pelvic surgeon, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York
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