CDC Study Finds Cervical Cancer Screening Continues Even After A Full Hysterectomy
January 4, 2013

CDC Study Finds Cervical Cancer Screening Continues Even After A Full Hysterectomy

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

All too often women are being screened for cervical cancer when they do not need it, say researchers. Many women are having the cancer screening even after they have had a full hysterectomy. Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about 60 percent of women who no longer have a cervix still get cervical cancer screening.

For years, experts have said that women who have had a full hysterectomy do not need to have regular screening for any reason other than cancer. However, the CDC reports that even screening for cervical cancer is an unwarranted test for those who have had their cervix removed. They noted that most pap tests continue because they are part of annual doctor visits.

A CDC study found that pap test rates have fallen–from 73 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2010. The findings are from a survey of thousands of women 30 and older who have had a hysterectomy. Still, many may be having them unnecessarily.

Sharon Begley, a reporter for Reuters Health, was steaming. "Angry that 1/3 of US med $$ goes to useless 'care'? Get ready 2 scream: 60% of women w/hysterectomy keep having Paps," she tweeted.

As a general rule, pap tests are not recommended for women under 21. And those between 21 and 65 should have one every three years. After age 30, the interval between screenings can be extended to every 5 years. After age 65, there are no recommendations for screening except under special circumstances.

But those guidelines change when a woman has had a hysterectomy. No testing is recommended under those circumstances, since it only leads to false worries. And 90 percent of all hysterectomies are done for reasons other than cancer concerns.

A second study by the CDC also found that fewer women under the age of 21 are getting screened. Around 48 percent of women 18-21 reported in 2010 that they have never had a pap test compared with 26 percent in 2000. But for women 21-30, the number rose–10 percent in 2010 from 7 percent in 2000.

"Although recommendations have resulted in reductions in screening posthysterectomy and of those aged 65 years, many women still are being screened who will not benefit from it," the researchers wrote.

Both studies appear in the CDC's weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.