Three Year Interval for Cervical Cancer Screening

Regular screening for cervical cancer is an important preventative care step that drastically reduces rates of advanced cervical cancer and allows physicians to detect cancer at early stages. While the preferred frequency of cervical cancer screenings may vary between healthcare providers, a new study from New Mexico indicates that screening every 3 years may be the optimal interval. The study evaluated outcomes from 646 women included in the New Mexico Tumor Registry who were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2006 and 2016.

Women who received more frequent screenings, with no more than 30 months between screening, had a 90% reduction in the risk of nonlocalized cervical cancer compared to those who had not been screened for 5 years. Similarly, there was a 57% reduction in risk of stage I disease in those who had been screened within the past 3 years compared to those who had not been screened for 5 years. Frequency of screening was correlated with lower cancer stage at diagnosis. More than half (59.3%) of women with stage IA disease had been screened within the past 3 years, while only 22.5% of women with stage III or higher disease had been screened within the previous 3 years. Screening more frequently than every 3 years was not associated with earlier detection or better outcomes.

The authors concluded that screening for cervical cancer every 3 years is the optimal approach, associated with a clinically meaningful reduction in advanced cancer diagnoses, with no additional benefit for more frequent screening. These results are supported by several healthcare guidelines, which currently recommend screening for cervical cancer every 3 years.

Read more about this article on Medscape Medical News.

Int J Cancer. 2019 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print.]
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