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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cervical Cancer Screening.

  • Author(s): Sawaya, George F
  • Smith-McCune, Karen
  • et al.
Abstract

Recent changes in cervical cancer screening and management guidelines reflect our evolving knowledge about cervical carcinogenesis. In the pursuit of precision, however, decision-making has become complicated. We provide an overview of cervical cancer screening with a focus on what clinicians can do to maximize screening benefits while minimizing screening harms. The approach relies on categorizing women at each step in the screening process by their estimated risk of high-grade precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. Current screening guidelines are designed to find a reasonable balance between benefits and harms by recommending less screening in most women. Current management guidelines are designed to assure consistent decisions regarding referral to colposcopy. After initial colposcopy, we outline three major management options based on risk assessment. For treatment, we recommend ablational procedures when appropriate because they are similarly effective, less costly, and potentially safer than excisional procedures. We advise caution in adopting new screening strategies until they demonstrate cost-effective patient-centered improvements compared with current strategies. Clinicians can maximize their effect on cervical cancer prevention by being attentive to guidelines, assuring that women have access to appropriate human papillomavirus vaccination and providing low-cost, high-quality screening and treatment.

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