Why HPV Screenings Are a Must for Older Women

10 Jul 2023 • Researchers have developed develop a catch-up HPV screening test which could potentially improve cervical cancer prevention in women aged 65 years and older who have never had an HPV test. For women over the age of 65 who have never had a high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) test, a "catch up" HPV screening intervention may improve cervical cancer prevention by detecting more cervical pre-cancer lesions as compared to women not offered screening.

The findings, published on July 6 in PLOS Medicine , included women between ages 65 and 69 years in Denmark who had no record of cervical cancer screening or an HPV test in the previous 5 years. Though current guidelines recommend that clinicians stop screening women for cervical cancer at age 65 years if their previous screening results have been normal, lead author Dr. Tranberg said that many women do not get screened as they get closer to age 65 years. But women older than 65 years account for about 20% of new cervical cancer cases.

The study found that women who had been insufficiently screened between ages 50 and 64 years had a higher prevalence of HPV, with more grade 2 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia lesions or worse, than did those who were sufficiently screened.

"Female life expectancy is really increasing and therefore the number of cervical cancers in women over the age of 65 is expected to rise," Dr Tranberg said. "That's a big reason to rethink screening in older women." This study informs the current scientific debate as to whether women aged 65 and above should be offered a catch-up HPV test if they never had an HPV test.

Source: PLOS Medicine | Read full story

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