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Press Release

Embargoed for
May 10, 2005
12:00 a.m.
Contact: CDC National Center for Chronic
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office of Communication, 770-488-5131

Women More Likely to Undergo Cervical Cancer Screening if Recommended by a Physician

The most common reason many women give to explain why they didn't receive regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer is that their doctors didn't recommend the test, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the May issue of the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

“Screening for cervical cancer is an important health issue. We are still losing too many lives because cervical cancer is preventable and curable, if detected early," said Steven S. Coughlin, PhD., CDC's division of cancer prevention and control and lead author of the study. “Increased physician recommendations could help to significantly increase Pap screenings in the United States."

The CDC analyzed data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to determine if women in the United States had received a physician recommendation to get a Pap test. Study findings show that among women who had visited a doctor in the last year, but who had not had a recent Pap test, about 87 percent reported that their doctor had not recommended a Pap test in the last year. They cited this lack of a physician recommendation as a leading reason for not having the test in the last year. Other reported reasons for not receiving a Pap test included "no reason/never thought about it," "didn't know I needed this type of test," "put it off," "too expensive/no insurance," and "don't have doctor."

This year there will be an estimated 10,370 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed and about 3,710 women will die of the disease. Many of these deaths could be prevented if women received Pap tests regularly.

Through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), CDC provides critical breast and cervical cancer screening services to medically underserved women in the United States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. Additional information about CDC's efforts in the early detection of breast and cervical cancers is available at

CDC also works with health care providers to educate their patients and ensure they receive appropriate screening services at the recommended intervals. CDC offers a variety of CDC-funded patient education materials that address the basics of cervical cancer prevention and the importance of Pap tests, and provides information on where women can obtain free or low-cost screening.

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This page last updated May 10, 2005

United States Department of Health and Human Services
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