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Cervical Cancer Screening Tests in Older Women

Researchers say their results support screening women up to age 65 and beyond
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Cervical cancer screening beyond age 50 saves lives and remains beneficial to women up to age 69, a new British study suggests.

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that cervical cancer screening end at age 65.

In this new study, researchers examined data from all 1,341 women aged 65 to 83 in England and Wales who were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2007 and 2012, and compared them to women in the same age group who did not have cervical cancer.

The results showed that women who did not undergo cervical cancer screening after age 50 were six times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than those who had regular screenings between ages 50 to 64 and had no abnormalities. There were 49 cancers in the first group versus eight cancers in the second group per 10,000 women over 20 years, found the study in the journal PLoS Medicine

The rate of cervical cancer was 86 per 10,000 over 20 years among women who were screened regularly between ages 50 to 64 and found to have abnormalities, according to a journal new release.

The findings suggest that cervical cancer screening in older women has a substantial impact in reducing cervical cancer risk, said researchers Peter Sasieni and colleagues from Queen Mary University of London.

"Screening up to age 65 years greatly reduces the risk of cervical cancer in the following decade, but the protection weakens with time and is substantially less 15 years after the last screen. In the light of increasing life expectancy, it would seem inappropriate for countries that currently stop screening between the ages 60 and 69 years to consider reducing the age at which screening ceases," the researchers concluded.

This type of new data from older women can help experts determine whether current guidelines that recommend a halt to cervical cancer screening at age 65 meet all women's needs, Anne Rositch, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in an accompanying editorial.

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