Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Regular Pap tests urged

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

One in every 71 Taiwanese women who has a Pap smear was found to have pre-cancerous lesions or cancer, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday, as it urged women to be tested every three years.

Cervical cancer is the seventh-most common cancer among females in the country, with 1,700 women being diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer annually and 700 deaths per year.

Cervical cancer and pre-cancerous conditions can be detected by Pap smears, and early detection has been shown to help decrease the mortality rate by 60 percent to 90 percent, the agency said.

Since the government began promoting regular Pap smear tests in 1995, the death rate from cervical cancer has plunged by 60 percent, from 11 out of every 100,000 women in 1995 to 3.9 women last year, HPA said.

The tests showed that 11,000 women had precancerous lesions and nearly 5,000 had early-stage cervical cancer in 2012, indicating that one in every 71 women who underwent a Pap smear would be found to have either cell abnomalities or malignancies, it said.

That is why it is important for women to have a Pap smear every three years, it said.

Those who have not been screened for at least six years should make sure to be tested because the screening data analysis suggests that they are three times more likely to have premalignant conditions or cervical cancer than those who have had a Pap smear within three years, officials said.

One in every two woman who tests positive with a Pap smear is confirmed to have either pre-cancerous changes or cervical cancer, and women should who received abnormal test results should make sure they have follow-up checks, the agency said.

As much as 97.6 percent of the abnormalities detected by the screening are precancerous lesions or early stage cervical cancer, the survival rate of which is 97.4 percent at stage 0 and 84.1 percent at stage 1, the agency said.

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