Boston University Study Finds Many Physicians Are Not Following Cervical Cancer Guidelines

S0749379713X00078_cov200hFor many years, women between the ages of 21 were urged to get annual screenings for cervical cancer. But in 2009, the scientific evidence tended to show that screenings every three years were just as effective. But researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine conducted a survey that found that physicians were not adopting the new three-year guidelines for cervical cancer screening.

The research showed that annual cervical screening produces more abnormal results and that these results lead to more invasive testing, which has greater risks to the patient. Many of these abnormal results will never progress to actual cancer yet these women are often referred for additional procedures such as a colposcopy or a biopsy. These procedures have risks and unnecessary testing greatly increases healthcare costs.

Vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) has been recommended for women aged 11–26 years since 2006.  The Boston University survey found that less than one third of obstetrician-gynecologists vaccinate their eligible patients against HPV.

“Providers stated that the largest barrier to HPV vaccination was patients and parents declining to receive the vaccine. However, studies indicate that most patients support HPV vaccination, and that a strong physician recommendation is the most important determinant of vaccine uptake in young women,” said principal investigator Rebecca Perkins, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Perkins is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School.

The study, “Challenges in Cervical Cancer Prevention: A Survey of U.S. Obstetrician-Gynecologists” was published in the American Journal of Prevention Medicine. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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