Study Reaffirms That Pap Tests Save Lives

2 Mar

Regular Pap tests can, and do, save the lives of women diagnosed with cervical cancer, a new study shows.

Women whose cervical cancers were found by a Pap test had a 92% cure rate. The cure rate fell to 66% among women who were diagnosed because of symptoms.

Even those women who had symptoms when they went for a regular Pap test had a better chance of beating the cancer than women who were overdue for their screening test when diagnosed. More than 75% of the 373 women who died had not had a Pap test during the recommended time frame.

The study included 1,230 women in Sweden diagnosed with cervical cancer between 1999 and 2001. They were screened by a routine Pap test or diagnosed as a result of symptoms. Symptoms of cervical cancer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, and abnormal discharge that is tinged with blood between periods or after menopause.

Pap tests are more likely to find the cancers at an earlier and more treatable stage, the study authors conclude. The findings appear online in the journal  BMJ.

In 2012, there will be 12,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed in the U.S., and about 4,220 women will die from this cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

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