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Risks of skipping smears revealed

16 January 2014 09:20

Smear tests: Women over 50 are being urged to have one regularly

Smear tests: Women over 50 are being urged to have one regularly

Women over 50 who skip smear test screenings are far more likely to develop cervical cancer, according to new research.

This has prompted the report's author, Cancer Research UK, to urge that this age group get regular checks.

Women who do not have smear tests in this group have six times the chance of developing the disease compared to those of the same age who have a background of normal screening results.

In addition, scientists found that women with a screening history and standard screening results between the ages of 50 and 64 have a lower chance of cervical cancer at least into their 80s.

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Scientists analysed information from 1,341 women aged 65 to 83 who were detected with cervical cancer between 2007 and 2012, and contrasted them to 2,646 women without the condition.

Among those females who missed smear tests between the ages of 50 and 64, 49 instances of cervical cancer were detected per 10,000 women at age 65 to 83.

This contrasted to only eight instances every 10,000 women among those with an acceptable screening background and standard results.

Women who had been screened constantly but had an unusual result between the ages of 50 and 64 had the greatest risk of all - 86 cervical cancer instances per 10,000 women at age 65 to 83.

Scientists said the rate of protection given by an adequate screening history of normal results does drop in time, but can extend well into the 80s.

Jessica Kirby, Cancer Research UK's senior health information manager, said: "Screening is a great way of reducing the risk of cervical cancer, and saves up to 5,000 lives a year in the UK. We encourage women to take up cervical screening when invited."

The results are published in the journal PLOS Medicine.