Objective: To characterize the antecedent screening of women 65 years of age and older diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Methods: Screening histories of women 65 years of age and older who were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2003 and 2008 were examined utilizing the organization's databases and the regional Cancer Registry. Stopping screening was recommended at age 65 for members who had either 3 consecutive negative Paps or a single negative Pap plus HPV test ("cotest").
Results: From 2003 through 2008 there were 56 Kaiser Permanente Northern California members 65 years of age and older diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the same time period there were 1,323,100 woman-years of membership in women age 65 and older. The risk of invasive cancer among women age 65 and older was 4.2/100,000/year in 2003-2008. 33 of 56 (59%) had one or more Pap smears prior to diagnosis. Of the 33, 14 women (25%) had 3 consecutive negative Pap smears prior to diagnosis. Three of 46,401 women with 1 or more negative cotests at age 65 and older were subsequently diagnosed with invasive cancer during 132,639 women-years of follow-up (2.3/100,000/year).
Conclusions: Most cervical cancers diagnosed at age 65 and older occur in women who have not met our criteria for stopping screening. A few cancers will continue to occur at age 65 and older despite multiple negative tests, as is true in other age groups. We currently have no evidence that these cancers would be prevented with continued screening at ages 65 and older.
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