Nav: Home

Women should continue cervical cancer screening as they approach age 65

May 01, 2017

Ann Arbor, MI, May 1, 2017 - Cervical cancer is often thought of as a disease that primarily affects young women. Because of this, many older women fail to keep up with appropriate screening as they age. While current guidelines indicate that screening can be stopped for average risk patients after age 65, many women lack the appropriate amount of screening history to accurately assess their risk. A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that incidence rates of cervical cancer do not begin to decline until 85 years of age among women without a hysterectomy and that women over 65 who have not been recently screened may benefit from continued surveillance.

"An older woman who has not had her cervix surgically removed has the same or even higher risk of developing cervical cancer compared to a younger woman," said lead investigator Mary C. White, ScD, Chief of the Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA. "Women who have not had a hysterectomy need to continue to be screened until age 65, and possibly later if they have not been screened for many years or are at special risk, consistent with current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations."

In 2013, one-fifth of cervical cancer cases and one-third of cervical cancer deaths occurred among women 65 years of age and older. Current recommendations say that screening can be stopped at age 65 if an adequate testing history indicates consistently negative results. Three consecutive negative cytology results or two consecutive negative co-test results within the last 10 years, with the most recent test within the last 5 years, are considered sufficient reason to stop screening average risk women after age 65.

Using data from the 2013 and 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), investigators looked at the use of screening tests and rates of cervical cancer for women 65 years of age and older. They found that when corrected for hysterectomy, incidence rates of cervical cancer increased with age until 70 and did not begin to decline until age 85.

The data also revealed that many women approaching the "stopping" age of 65 were not getting sufficient screening. Researchers established that the proportion of women not recently screened increases with age. While only 12% of women in their 40s had no recent screening history, that number progressively increased for women in their 50s and 60s. Nearly 850,000 women aged 61-65 years had not been screened within the last five years.

"A recommended upper age limit for routine screening may lead women and providers to assume that cervical cancer is a younger women's disease," explained Dr. White. "After adjustment for hysterectomy, some of the highest cervical cancer incidence rates occur among women older than 65 years, with notably higher rates among older black women. Premature discontinuation of routine screening among women in the years before age 65 could contribute to preventable cases of invasive cervical cancer and deaths."

Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages. This new study highlights the importance of regular screening for older women who are at high risk or without documentation of adequate prior screening in order to help prevent cervical cancer deaths. Going forward, given increases in life expectancy and the high rates of cervical cancer after 65, women in midlife need to continue with routine cervical cancer screening to look for changes that may need further follow-up.

"In the short term, efforts could be undertaken to clarify misperceptions about the risk of cervical cancer among older women and providers," concluded Dr. White. "Messages about a 'stopping age' need to emphasize the recommendation for an adequate screening history of previous negative tests before screening is discontinued, not just chronologic age."
-end-


Elsevier Health Sciences

Related Cervical Cancer Articles:

Cervical cancer elimination possible within two decades in the US
At current levels of screening and HPV vaccination, cervical cancer incidence in the US is projected to fall below the threshold of elimination by 2038-2046.
Cervical cancer screening saves lives
Three-year interval in screening for cervical cancer is as effective as annual checkups, study finds.
Cervical cancer could be eliminated within a century
Cervical cancer could be eliminated worldwide as a public health issue within the next century.
25 years of learning to combat cervical cancer
A recent paper from the lab of Professor Sudhir Krishna at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, reviews the progress made in cervical cancer research over the past 25 years.
Cervical cancer screening numbers drop off in women 45-65
Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and much of the attention in recent years has focused on preventing infections in younger women through HPV vaccination.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cost-effectiveness analysis of 12 cervical cancer screenings
This cost-effectiveness analysis incorporates women's preferences and estimates quality of life and economic outcomes for 12 cervical cancer screening strategies.
Urine test could prevent cervical cancer
Urine testing may be as effective as the smear test at preventing cervical cancer, according to new research by University of Manchester scientists.
Cervical cancer subtype rising in some sub-populations
A new study reports that a type of cervical cancer that is less amenable to Pap testing is increasing in several subpopulations of women, pointing to the growing importance of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and vaccination
Cervical cancer is more aggressive when human papillomavirus is not detected
Cervical cancer negative for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is rare but more aggressive: it is more frequently diagnosed at advanced stages, with more metastasis and reduced survival.
More Cervical Cancer News and Cervical Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.