Primary Screening for Cervical Cancer: Incorporating New Guidelines and Technologies into Clinical Practice

Mary Lauren Lemieux


Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2010;6(6):425-426. 

In This Article


Screening for disease is the foundation of well-patient examination. When performing a screening test, the clinician should be informed as to the intended population to be screened and the purpose, cost, and implications of testing. Just what does it mean if the test result is positive or negative? What steps come next if the test result is positive or negative? When the test result comes back positive, will it survive the "so what" question? If the answer is no, would you still order the test?

Cytology-based cervical cancer screening programs have been highly successful. The addition of HPV DNA testing promises to further improve the efficacy of screening. It is vital that clinicians understand the benefits, limitations, and harms of testing. False-positives can be reduced by adhering to the guidelines for age-related testing and the recommended longer screening intervals. Patients must be well informed regarding the role of HPV infection testing in cervical cancer screening. New technologies are rapidly evolving, challenging older screening techniques, and changing the way clinicians practice. Proper implementation of cervical cancer screening guidelines will prepare clinicians for a paradigm shift away from the yearly Pap test to a more comprehensive view of cervical cancer screening and women's health care.


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