August 12, 2014 – Fewer Pelvic Exams


Anchor lead:  Most women can give routine pelvic exams a miss, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Most women don’t need routine screening pelvic examinations, the American College of Physicians has advised.  Does this mean women may miss opportunities for things like ovarian cancer to be detected? William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: Based on a systematic review of all the literature since 1946, what the American College of Physicians has concluded is that part of the examination doesn’t uncover diseases at a time when we can treat them better, doesn’t change mortality, is associated with discomfort, and their argument is to use the cervical cancer screening guidelines, that’s been very valuable, but not undergo routine screening pelvic examinations.   :27

Nelson says Pap smears and HPV screens remain valuable tools for assessing cervical cancer risk but that appropriate intervals for these are also under scrutiny depending on a woman’s age and other factors, so stay tuned.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.