Entries in Cervical Cancer (13)


Vinegar Test May Help Reduce Deaths Caused by Cervical Cancer

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A medical study in India found that a test utilizing an acetic acid solution -- vinegar -- could help prevent cervical cancer in women.

The study analyzed over 150,000 women between the ages of 35 and 64, who did not have prior history of cancer. The women were randomly assigned to determine whether or not they would receive biennial screening using visual inspection with acetic acid.

The women in the control group received one round of cancer education at their enrollment. Comparatively, the women who were screened biennially also received multiple rounds of cancer education. Any women in either group who were diagnosed with cervical cancer received free treatment.

Women who were screened regularly were diagnosed with cervical cancer at a rate of 26.7 per 100,000 patients. Women in the control group registered a slightly higher rate of 27.5 instances of cervical cancer per 100,000.

While the overall rate of invasive cervical cancer was similar in the two groups, researchers found biennial screening to have other advantages. Women who received regular screening saw a 31 percent drop in their cervical cancer-related death rate. In fact, women who were more frequently screened saw their overall death rate drop by seven percent, because cancer was often diagnosed earlier.

The research has limited potential in high income countries such as the United States, because screening using Pap smears has already diminished the rate of cervical cancer incidence by about 80 percent. However, in other nations, including India, large-scale Pap smear screening or HPV DNA testing is not possible. In those countries, the so-called "vinegar test" could be a major breakthrough.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Guidelines Extend Women's Cancer Prevention Debate

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Everyone agrees that preventive care helps reduce the threat of cervical or breast cancer for women. But women often face conflicting recommendations by health care professionals when it comes to cancer prevention.
The government-run U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer recommends that women receive annual pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.

But the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists disagrees. It's issued new guidelines recommending annual well-woman exams for proper health maintenance beginning at age 21, and even sooner, if a woman has pelvic pain, a menstrual disorder or other worrisome symptoms. However, they say it's not necessary to have an exam before starting birth-control pills.
The college also believes that women between the ages of 20- and 39-years-old should have clinical breast exams every one to three years, and annual exams beginning at age 40.
That's where the doctors' group differs from the government task force. It recommends annual testing for breast cancer beginning at 50 years old.
The differing guidelines may be confusing, but it's best to consult with your own doctor to come up with the best preventive health care plan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Late Stage Cervical Diagnosis Linked to Lack of Insurance

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This year, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be told they have cervical cancer. Over 4,000 of them will die.    
Diagnosing cervical cancer in the early stages means a better chance of conquering the disease. Receiving a diagnosis at the later third or fourth stage may mean more aggressive and expensive therapies, and an increased risk of death.
A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health took a closer look at how insurance coverage affected 69,000 American women with cervical cancer.
Researchers at the American Cancer Society found that 24 percent of privately insured women were diagnosed with stage three or four advanced disease, compared to over 34 percent of those with Medicaid, and just over 35 percent of those without insurance.
The study concludes that uninsured women are at higher risk of being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer because they lack access to screening. Researchers suggest that all women who need it should have access to affordable screenings.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Guidelines Discourage Yearly Pap Tests

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While Pap smears remain an essential part of cervical cancer prevention, new guidelines discourage the once-a-year screenings that have been a part of women’s health for years.

New recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, state that women who are 21 to 29 years old only need a Pap smear every three years. And those under the age of 21 do not need a Pap smear at all, regardless of sexual history.

And healthy women age between the ages of 30 and 65 need a Pap smear only every five years  if they combine it with a test for human papillomavirus, or HPV,  which can develop into cervical cancer.

The guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are in sync with those of the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Pathology. Previously, the medical groups recommended Pap smears at least every three years.

But they’ve found that testing every three years prevented just as many cervical cancer deaths as testing every year. But the annual testing brought on false-positives, unnecessary biopsies, which bring a risk of infection, pregnancy complications and infertility, and, of course, unnecessary stress.

“The big point is that every woman needs to get screened,” Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor at ABC News, said on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday. “Almost half of women never get tested, and their cancers are picked up when they have symptoms.  But beyond that, read these guidelines, think about it and talk to your doctor about what type of screening and how frequently is right for you.”

The Pap smear was first introduced in 1941, and reduced deaths from cervical cancer, which was once the No. 1 cancer killer among women, by about 70 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Cervical cancer screening is a success story, but the more testing you do, the more you run the risk of false positives, and potential harm of over treatment,” Dr. Wanda Nicholson, a task force member and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, told ABC News last  October.

Nevertheless, women still need their annual pelvic and breast examinations.

“With all these different recommendations, we run the risk of having people to start missing their Paps and make it seem like they’re not important enough,” Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt in New York City, said in October. “You still need your annual exam. That means, you need your breast and pelvic exam. You just don’t need the actual swabbing of the cervix every year.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pap Smears Improve Cervical Cancer Survival, Research Confirms

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Regular Pap smears improve the chances of surviving cervical cancer, according to Swedish research, confirming the life-saving benefits of screening every three years during a woman's 20s, 30s and 40s.

The findings about the benefits of widespread testing every three years are particularly relevant for women in this country, where the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force last fall recommended that healthy women 21 to 65 undergo a Pap smear every three years, rather than continuing to make the test an annual medical ritual.  The task force noted that overtesting has enormous financial and physical consequences for women.

Sweden is a good natural laboratory for studying cervical cancer survival for several reasons.  It has a strong national screening program that calls women in for testing every three years from ages 21 to 50 and every five years from 51 to 60, maintains good databases tracking how they fare, and provides broad access to testing and care.

"This is an excellent study and helpful for the screening message," said Dr. Mark Einstein, director of gynecologic oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.  "In such a highly accessible health system as there is in Sweden with registries that are the envy of the world, this study shows that Pap testing impacts survival from cervical cancer.  It also tells us that Pap tests are still an essential part of cervical cancer screening."

Einstein noted that cervical cancer used to be the number one cancer killer of women in the early 20th century, but that after the adoption of widespread measures that today also include testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) -- a sexually transmitted infection responsible for the vast majority of cervical malignancies -- as well as HPV vaccination, "cervical cancer does not even make the top 10 prevalent cancers in U.S. women anymore."

However, he said, "In the United States, more than half of women who get cervical cancer have never been screened or have been under-screened."

Swedish women diagnosed with cancer detected through a Pap screen within the previous six months had a better prognosis than those diagnosed because they came in with symptomatic cancer, researchers from Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute reported.  In addition, women whose symptomatic cancer was diagnosed during the three or five years between regular tests fared better than symptomatic women who were overdue for repeat screening, they found.

Their results, based on a study of the 1,230 Swedish women diagnosed with cervical cancer between 1999 and 2001, and followed for an average of 8.5 years afterward, appeared online Thursday in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers sought to determine whether detection of cervical cancer by screening resulted in a better prognosis or just resulted in earlier diagnosis, and found that the prognosis indeed was better if the testing caught the cancer.  Looking at the big picture, they found that screened women whose cancer was picked up by a Pap test had a higher so-called cure rate -- meaning they survived cancer-free -- than those whose cancers were found after they already had symptoms.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Genital Warts on the Rise in Older Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Genital warts are on the rise in women, particularly those over 40, prompting a new recommendation for prevention and treatment from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

The number of women with genital warts, or vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) has quadrupled since the ’70s, the groups said -- a rise thought to stem from increased exposure to the human papilloma virus. The virus, known as HPV, is the same sexually transmitted disease that causes cancers of the cervix, penis, anus and throat. And although most genital warts are benign, some can progress to vulvar cancer.

“Although VIN appears to be increasing in the U.S., the risk of vulvar cancer is small when compared with cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers,” Dr. L. Stewart Massad, a member of the ACO Committee on Gynecologic Practice, said in a statement about the recommendations scheduled for release Nov. 1. “VIN is similar to precancerous cervical lesions in that they are both generally slow-growing.”

The slow-growing nature of VIN is the reason women older than 40 have a higher incidence, although young women can develop VIN too, Massad said.

The only way to diagnose VIN is by visually examining the warts. Massad said women should use a hand mirror to check the area for unusual spots and make an appointment with a gynecologist if they see any changes.

Like precancerous cervical lesions caused by HPV, VIN can be treated with surgery or laser ablation to reduce the risk of cancer. But even with treatment, VIN can recur. Massad said women diagnosed with VIN should go for check-ups at six-month or one-year intervals.

The HPV vaccine used to prevent cervical cancer also helps prevent VIN, but won’t help treat it in women already infected with HPV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Household Vinegar to Screen for Cervical Cancer?

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Vinegar is known for its versatility around the house, but now it’s gaining a reputation for a much more powerful benefit: its ability to discover precancerous lesions in the cervix and save thousands of women’s lives.

The New York Times reported that household vinegar screening has become a staple in many OB/GYN offices across Thailand and several pilot programs have been set up in developing countries.

The method is a simple one: a nurse brushes a woman’s cervix with vinegar and the solution makes precancerous spots turn white. If spots appear, they can immediately be frozen off. The cheap procedure is similar to results of a Pap smear screening, where a doctor scrapes the inner walls of the cervix, which is then examined by a pathologist.

Much like the Pap smear did in the West, the procedure, known as a visual inspection of acetic acid, is changing the face of cervical cancer in poor and middle-income countries. In the early 1900s, cervical cancer was the No. 1 cancer killer in American women, but now it comes in far behind other cancers.

“This is a life-saving procedure for many women in developing regions of the world because the precancerous lesions, which are immediate precursors to cervical cancer, can be treated before they progress,” said Dr. Mark Einstein, director of clinical research in the department of gynecologic oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “The issue is the limited infrastructure and adequately trained personnel in some of these regions.”

“This been used in areas such as China, other parts of Southeast Asia and Africa where cervical cancer burden is high but access to care is low,” said Dr. Matthew Anderson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Overall, rates of cervical cancer are increasing worldwide, largely due to the lack of availability of preventive health services such as pap smears, and more importantly, the type of staged interventions we use here in the US.”

Cervical cancer is seen in about 400,000 women in developing countries without Pap screening and 80,000 women per year in countries with Pap screening, said Dr. Diane Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri-Kansas.

But the procedure does not come without caution from experts.

“Given the choice of no screening at all, and having this done once in a lifetime at the age of 35 years, doing this once in a lifetime at 35 years is preferable,” said Harper. “This is not a procedure that has any validity to repeating multiple times for a woman or doing for a young woman who is still in child-bearing years.  The sensitivity and specificity are very poor for repeat procedures.”

Anderson stressed that the procedure is not a treatment for cervical cancer, only a specific way to screen.

“It’s not the vinegar that is treating the problem and could falsely lead women to think that if they somehow douche with vinegar, they are not going to get cervix cancer,” said Anderson.  “Although I don’t think this has ever been directly tested as a treatment, I doubt nothing could be further from the truth.”

“The bottom line is cervical cancer can be prevented in most women,” said Einstein. “So any screening is better than no screening.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann Comments Spark HPV ‘Retardation’ Debate

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., made HPV vaccinations a sticking point in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate.

Bachmann slammed Gov. Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that all sixth-grade Texas girls be required to get vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus linked to cervical cancer.  Bachmann said Perry’s mandate was a “government injection through executive order” and a “violation of a liberty interest.”

She charged that Perry’s order also endangered young girls who might experience negative side effects to the vaccine.

Bachmann’s statements elicited a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.  There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement.  Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record… This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”

Perry said his 2007 order was “a mistake,” as he did earlier this year.  But he also defended his decision, saying that it was an attempt to protect young women against cervical cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV.

The Texas legislature voted to override Perry’s order, and the law was never enacted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


IUDs May Protect Women from Cervical Cancer

Spike Mafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Intrauterine devices (IUDs), the small plastic devices inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy, may also offer women protection against cervical cancer, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

An international team of researchers analyzed 26 studies that included nearly 20,000 women from 14 countries and found that the risk of cervical cancer in women who used IUDs was nearly half that of women who never used them.

While the researchers did not find a link between IUDs and a lower risk of infection with human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that leads to cervical cancer, the study's authors believe IUDs may cause an immune response that can get rid of the virus once it enters the body.

"The hypothesis is that an IUD, because it's a foreign body, creates an inflammatory response that gets rid of the HPV, which reduces the risk of cervical cancer," said Dr. Howard Jones, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Previous studies have found IUD use reduces the risk of endometrial cancer, but few have looked at the relationship between IUDs and cervical cancer.

Experts not involved with the research say while the findings offer important insight into how cervical cancer develops, clinicians are unlikely to change how they prescribe IUDs as a result of this research since this study does not determine whether a cause-and-effect relationship exists between IUDs and cervical cancer.  The study also did not evaluate specific types of IUDs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Laura Bush Leads Effort to Expand Cancer Screening, Treatment Abroad

Archie Carpenter/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former first lady Laura Bush is raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America while working to expand screening and treatment.

Bush and former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Brinker are leading Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a public-private partnership that will expand the availability of vital cervical cancer screening and treatment and breast care education, particularly for HIV-stricken women in developing nations.  The partners include the George W. Bush Institute, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Brinker is the former U.S. ambassador to Hungary and founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer awareness and advocacy organization that she started in honor of her sister, Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980.

“It’s new, we know it’s bold, but we believe we can reduce deaths from cervical cancer in sub-Sahara Africa by 25 percent in five years,”  Brinker, speaking of the new initiative, told ABC's Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts in an interview that aired Tuesday on the show.

The former first lady said Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has many corporate partners and sponsors that could bring technical assistance to the effort.

Asked by Roberts about how they could hope to involve Americans in the effort when people were worried about their own difficult times in the United States, Bush said, “I think it’s really important, both for our moral imperative to reach out to people around the world, and I know many Americans agree with that.  But also I think it’s important for our national security to make sure that people don’t think we’re just standing by while everyone across Africa is dying of something that is treatable or is preventable.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President George W. Bush will launch Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon on Tuesday.

Pink ribbons are associated with support for breast cancer patients and research, while red ribbons denote similar support for HIV/AIDS.

Cervical cancer is the most common women’s cancer in Africa and the third most common cancer in women worldwide, affecting 530,000 women and killing 275,000 women every year.  Breast cancer is estimated to affect 1.4 million women and kill 458,000 women each year globally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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