Significant Step in Cervical Cancer Screening

September 27, 2011
OBGYN.net Staff
OBGYN.net Staff

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) has endorsed the American Cancer Society's (ACS) new guidelines, "Early Detection of Cervical Neoplasia and Cancer," released in the Nov./Dec. issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The new guidelines represent a significant step forward in advising the health care community and the public on the importance of cervical cancer screening and the relationship between the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus and cervical cancer.

Chicago, Illinois, November 18, 2002 --- The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) has endorsed the American Cancer Society's (ACS) new guidelines, "Early Detection of Cervical Neoplasia and Cancer," released in the Nov./Dec. issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The new guidelines represent a significant step forward in advising the health care community and the public on the importance of cervical cancer screening and the relationship between the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus and cervical cancer, SGO President J. Max Austin, Jr., MD, stated in a communication to Society members earlier this week.

The new screening recommendations, developed by an expert panel which included a number of SGO members, address when to begin screening, when screening should be discontinued, whether to screen women who have had a hysterectomy, appropriate screening intervals, and new screening technologies, including liquid-based cytology and HPV DNA testing. In addition, the Society and its Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (which also endorsed the guidelines) formally reviewed and provided input into the ACS guidelines before they were finalized.

The recommendations advise: 

  • Cervical cancer screening should begin approximately three years after a woman begins having vaginal intercourse, but no later than 21 years of age
  • Cervical screening should be done every year with conventional Pap tests or every two years using liquid-based Pap tests. At or after age 30, women who have had three normal test results in a row may get screened every two to three years. But a doctor may suggest getting the test more often if a woman has certain risk factors such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or a weakened immune system
  • Women 70 years of age and older who have had three or more normal Pap test results and no abnormal results in the last 10 years may choose to stop cervical cancer screening
  • Screening after a total hysterectomy (with removal of the cervix) is not necessary unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or precancer. Some other special conditions may require continued screening. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue cervical cancer screening at least until age 70. 

Dr. J. Max Austin, Jr., SGO President, said, "These guidelines are a significant step forward in achieving our ultimate goal - the elimination of cervical cancer as a cause of death among women in America. When cervical cancer is detected early, it is virtually 100% curable. But early detection is the key, and these guidelines provide an important new framework for both physicians and women." Dr. Austin is Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center.

Worldwide, cervical cancer affects more than 400,000 women annually and, after breast cancer, is the second most common malignancy found in women. In the United States, there are an estimated 13,000 cases of cervical cancer resulting in approximately 4,100 deaths each year.

References:

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists is a national medical specialty organization of physicians who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract. Its purpose is to improve the care of women with gynecologic cancer by encouraging research, disseminating knowledge which will raise the standards of practice in the prevention and treatment of gynecologic malignancies and cooperating with other organizations interested in women's health care, oncology and related fields. The Society's membership is primarily comprised of gynecologic oncologists, as well as other related medical specialists such as, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists. SGO members provide multidisciplinary cancer care including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, supportive care and surgery. More information on the SGO can be found at http://www.sgo.org.

The SGO formed the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) in 1991 to ensure public awareness of gynecologic cancer prevention, early diagnosis and proper treatment. In addition, the Foundation supports research and training related to gynecologic cancers. Please access http://www.wcn.org to learn more about the GCF.