Cervical Cancer Risk May Linger
Women Treated for Precancerous Cells Face Higher Cervical Cancer Risk
Nov. 18, 2005 -- The risk of cervical cancer may linger for many years
despite preventive treatment in high-risk women, according to a new study.
Researchers found that women who had potentially precancerous cells removed
from their cervix remain at increased risk for developing cervical cancer for
up to 20 years after treatment.
Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women.
But the risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer or dying from it is
dramatically lower in countries that have cervical cancer screening programs in
Removing Precancerous Cells
When potentially precancerous cells are found in the cervix through cervical
cancer screening, a condition known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
(CIN), removal of the cells is recommended to reduce the risk of the cells
turning into cancer.
If untreated, researchers estimate that about a third of the cases would
result in cervical cancer. But it's unclear what risk of cervical cancer women
who have had the treatment face over the long run.
In the study, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers
followed more than 7,500 women treated with CIN from 1974 and 2001 in Finland.
The women's cancer status was tracked through the Finnish cancer registry until
The results showed that 448 new cases of cervical cancer occurred among the
women. That's 96 more cases than researchers anticipated using estimates of
cervical cancer rates among the general population.
Researchers found that women were at higher than average risk of developing
cervical cancer for up to 20 years after their CIN treatment.
They say their findings conflict with previous studies that suggest the risk
of cervical cancer did not increase up to eight years after CIN treatment.
The study also showed that the risk of cervical cancer was higher for women
treated for mild or moderate types of CIN. Researchers say this may be because
women with less serious forms of the condition may be less vigilant about
checkups and additional cervical cancer screening than women treated for more