Failure to get a Pap test and Pap test failure are common reasons that women may be diagnosed with cervical cancer, researchers report in the May 4th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Invasive cervical cancer is “highly preventable, yet it continues to occur, even among women who have access to cancer screening and treatment strategies,” they report.To find out why, Dr. M. Michele Manos from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and colleagues identified 833 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the managed care setting and reviewed their medical records for the 3 years prior to diagnosis.Fifty-six percent of cervical cancers occurred in women who had not had a Pap test 4 to 36 months prior to diagnosis, they report. Of the remaining cases, 32% were attributed to failure of the Pap test to detect the cancer and 13% to failure to follow up an abnormal test result.Eighty-one percent of the women who had not been screened for cervical cancer had had at least one non-OB/GYN encounter with the healthcare system during the 3 years prior to their cancer diagnosis.”Many of these women had been seen multiple times,” Dr. Manos noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. “These were missed opportunities to intervene and remind them that they were overdue for Pap screening.””All interactions with the healthcare system should be utilized to be sure that women are keeping up with their Pap screening,” she said, adding that strategies to improve the accuracy of Pap screening are also needed.(Source: J Natl Cancer Inst 2005;97:675-683: Reuters Health: Megan Rauscher: Oncolink: May 2005.)