Counterpoint: Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines-Approaching the Golden Age
American journal of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.23). 08/2013; 178(7). DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwt171
Changes in screening guidelines that imply suppression of procedures once recommended are always controversial because of the perception that benefits are being curtailed. Prior to 2012, cervical cancer screening guidelines issued by US-based expert bodies differed in several decision areas, making clinicians essentially cherry-pick among recommendations. To some extent, this approach to screening practices also served to shield clinicians from litigation. It implied starting screening earlier, doing it more frequently, and stopping later in life than necessary. This state of affairs changed in 2012, when the most influential professional groups updated their cervical screening guidelines, and recommendations became essentially unified. All groups recommended that women older than 65 years of age discontinue cervical cancer screening on the basis of evidence that screening benefits in this age group were minor and far outweighed by harms. The guidelines are very specific about the exceptions, which ensure acceptable safety. It is expected that the new guidelines will permit less wasteful cervical screening, while fostering the opportunity to direct resources towards ensuring adequate coverage of high-risk women. © 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]
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ABSTRACT: Because of the complexity of cervical cancer prevention guidelines, clinicians often fail to follow best-practice recommendations. Moreover, existing clinical decision support (CDS) systems generally recommend a cervical cytology every three years for all female patients, which is inappropriate for patients with abnormal findings that require surveillance at shorter intervals. To address this problem, we developed a decision tree-based CDS system that integrates national guidelines to provide comprehensive guidance to clinicians. Validation was performed in several iterations by comparing recommendations generated by the system with those of clinicians for 333 patients. The CDS system extracted relevant patient information from the electronic health record and applied the guideline model with an overall accuracy of 87%. Providers without CDS assistance needed an average of 1 minute 39 seconds to decide on recommendations for management of abnormal findings. Overall, our work demonstrates the feasibility and potential utility of automated recommendation system for cervical cancer screening and surveillance.
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ABSTRACT: There is little consensus, and minimal evidence, regarding the age at which to stop cervical screening. We studied the association between screening at age 50-64 y and cervical cancer at age 65-83 y. Cases were women (n = 1,341) diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 65-83 y between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2012 in England and Wales; age-matched controls (n = 2,646) were randomly selected from population registers. Screening details from 1988 onwards were extracted from national databases. We calculated the odds ratios (OR) for different screening histories and subsequent cervical cancer. Women with adequate negative screening at age 65 y (288 cases, 1,395 controls) were at lowest risk of cervical cancer (20-y risk: 8 cancers per 10,000 women) compared with those (532 cases, 429 controls) not screened at age 50-64 y (20-y risk: 49 cancers per 10,000 women, with OR = 0.16, 95% CI 0.13-0.19). ORs depended on the age mix of women because of the weakening association with time since last screen: OR = 0.11, 95% CI 0.08-0.14 at 2.5 to 7.5 y since last screen; OR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.20-0.36 at 12.5 to 17.5 y since last screen. Screening at least every 5.5 y between the ages 50 and 64 y was associated with a 75% lower risk of cervical cancer between the ages 65 and 79 y (OR = 0.25, 95% CI 0.21-0.30), and the attributable risk was such that in the absence of screening, cervical cancer rates in women aged 65+ would have been 2.4 (95% CI 2.1-2.7) times higher. In women aged 80-83 y the association was weaker (OR = 0.49, 95% CI 0.28-0.83) than in those aged 65-69 y (OR = 0.12, 95% CI 0.09-0.17). This study was limited by an absence of data on confounding factors; additionally, findings based on cytology may not generalise to human papillomavirus testing. Women with adequate negative screening at age 50-64 y had one-sixth of the risk of cervical cancer at age 65-83 y compared with women who were not screened. Stopping screening between ages 60 and 69 y in women with adequate negative screening seems sensible, but further screening may be justifiable as life expectancy increases. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.