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Cervical screening should continue after 50
[Posted: Fri 24/04/2009 by Olivia Fens www.irishhealth.com]
The Irish strategy of screening women in their 50s for cervical cancer has been backed by new research.
Ireland’s National Cervical Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) provides free cervical screening across the country for women aged 25 to 60.
Previous evidence found that repeating smear tests in women aged over 50, whose previous tests have been normal had little, if any, benefit, and some experts proposed that the age limit should be lowered to 50.
However, according to a new report, published in the British Medical Journal, women over 50 have the same risk of cervical cancer as young women, and therefore should still be screened.
Researchers in the Netherlands and Denmark compared levels of cervical cancer in more than 660,000 women aged 30 to 44 years and 45 to 54 years.
The women were tracked for 10 years, during which time cases of cervical cancer were recorded.
The study found that after 10 years, the incidence of cervical cancer was similar in both groups (41 per 100,000 in the younger group and 36 per 100,000 in the older group), suggesting that among well-screened women without previous abnormalities the risk of developing cervical cancer was independent of age.
“Our study lends support to the current cervical cancer screening guidelines in England and other developed countries, which do not discriminate women by age up to 65 years,” the study authors said.
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