THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer are more likely to survive if they are ever diagnosed with the disease, a new Swedish study suggests.
Compared to women whose cervical cancer is detected because of symptoms, those diagnosed after a routine Pap smear increased their cure rate from 66 percent to more than 90 percent, the researchers said.
"Regular Pap screening does not just prevent cancer by looking for precursors, but it also increases the possibilities of cure if the cancer is detected during screening," said lead researcher Dr. Bengt Andrae, of the Centre for Research and Development at Uppsala University. "We can say the benefit of Pap smear screening is real."
In a Pap smear, cells scraped from the opening of the cervix are examined under a microscope. This year, more than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 will die from it, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
For the study, published in the March 1 online edition of the BMJ, Andrae's team collected data on more than 1,200 Swedish women diagnosed with cervical cancer from 1999 to 2001.
The researchers found 92 percent of the women who were screened regularly were cured, compared with 66 percent of the women diagnosed once symptoms had developed.
Cure rates were also higher among women screened according to established guidelines, compared to women who were overdue for a Pap test, they found. Of nearly 400 women who died from cervical cancer, 75 percent had not had a Pap test within the recommended time.
Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that "this is what we expected. Pap smears are good preventive measures for trying to catch cervical cancers early."
With cervical cancer, symptoms don't ap
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