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Many Women Can Have Cervical Cancer Test Every 3 Years: Study
Date:5/19/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Women 30 and older who have good results from each of the two cervical cancer tests available today can safely wait three years for their next screening instead of just one year, according to new research.

The finding is not likely be controversial, said Dr. Charles Capen, chief of gynecology/oncology at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, given that most current guidelines already recommend that women 30 and over who are otherwise healthy be screened with both a Pap smear and a test for a virus linked to cervical cancer every three years as long as the initial tests are both negative.

Unlike some cancers, cervical cancer is usually slow-growing, and it is curable if detected early, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"This [new research] confirms the latest guidelines," agreed Dr. Therese Bevers, medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "That is fabulous as it can give clinicians and women everywhere a lot of reassurance."

Hopefully, it will also spur more doctors to actually follow these guidelines, added Bevers, as recent research has revealed that most doctors are giving the Pap test more often than recommended -- i.e., once a year.

The study findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology being held in June in Chicago. The results were released early Wednesday during a teleconference.

Cervical cancer risk can be assessed by two different tests: the traditional Pap smear, which searches for abnormalities in cervical cells, and a newer test that can detect DNA of the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer: human papillomavirus, or HPV. That screening is referred to as the HPV test.

The new study involved more than 330,000 women enrolled in a large northern
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