Cervical Cancer Screening Among Low-Income Women: Results of a National Screening Program, 1991–1995

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ObjectiveTo evaluate the results of cervical cytology screening in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and to compare the findings with results from other screening programs.MethodsWe analyzed data on 312,858 women aged 18 years and older who received one or more Papanicolaou smears, and follow-up if indicated, from October 1991 through June 1995 at screening sites across the United States providing comprehensive National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program services.ResultsOf the women screened, more than half were 40 years or older; slightly less than half (44%) were of racial and ethnic minorities. During the first screening cycle, 3.8% of Papanicolaou tests were reported as abnormal (squamous intraepithelial lesion [SIL] or squamous cell cancer); proportions of abnormals decreased with increasing age. The age-adjusted rate of biopsy-confirmed cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) II or worse among women screened was 7.4 per 1000 Papanicolaou tests; rates of CIN were highest among young women, but cancer rates peaked among women in their 50s and 60s. The percentages of first screening cycle-Papanicolaou tests interpreted as high-grade SIL and squamous cell carcinoma associated with biopsyconfirmed CIN II or worse (the positive predictive value) were 56.0% for CIN II/III and 3.7% for invasive cancer. Of the 150 invasive cancers diagnosed, 54.0% were classified as local disease.ConclusionObserved results emphasize the duality of cervical neoplasia—CIN in younger women and invasive cancer in older women. This finding points to the importance of reaching both younger and older women for cervical cancer screening.

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