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New Pap Guidelines May Miss Aggressive Cancer in Young Women: Study
Date:3/8/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Recent changes to cervical cancer screening guidelines that recommend less stringent testing may result in a higher incidence of a particularly aggressive type of cervical cancer in young women, a new study suggests.

When the U.S. guidelines for cervical cancer screening were first changed in March 2012, the differences were clear-cut: Women could start getting cervical cancer screenings at a later age and an annual Pap test for everyone was being replaced with a longer interval between screenings -- typically three to five years, as long as no abnormalities showed up in a test.

But the researchers found that the time from a first abnormal Pap test to a diagnosis of this fast-moving cancer, known as adenocarcinoma of the cervix, was 21 months in women under 30 and 29 months for women older than 30.

"Any time national guidelines are changed pretty dramatically, I think it's important to reassess areas that may have been weakened," said study author Dr. Lisa Barroilhet, an assistant professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

"I don't think the new guidelines will cause a rampant epidemic of adenocarcinomas, [but] it's important to think about how a cure is obtained, which often involves removing a significant portion of the cervix," Barroilhet said. "If you're in your teens or 20s, you're probably not through with childbearing yet."

Results of the study were released online March 7 and will appear in the April print issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Adenocarcinoma used to be a rarer cancer of the cervix than squamous cell cancers. But because cervical cancer screening is so good at catching squamous cell cancers, the rate of adenocarcinomas as a proportion of all cervical cancers has been increasing, Barroilhet said. The early form of this cancer is referred to as adeno
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