[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 28, 1986

Papanicolaou Smear Testing in Elderly Women

Author Affiliations

Duke University Medical Center Veterans Administration Medical Center Durham, NC

JAMA. 1986;256(20):2819. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380200057018

To the Editor.—  In a recent article,1 the results of Papanicolaou smear screening in a large group of elderly women were reviewed. The authors addressed the important issue of screening as part of health maintenance in the elderly. A 65-year-old woman has an 18-year life expectancy and should not be considered "too old" for preventive medicine. Potential biases in the study were discussed by the authors, and the important outcomes of the screening were included in their analysis. Of 816 Papanicolaou smears obtained, 11 were reported to be abnormal, with the authors concluding that cervical cancer screening should continue beyond the age of 65 years, especially in the group that has underutilized screening in the past. While pelvic examinations should be a part of regular physical examinations for elderly women, the utility of Papanicolaou smears for this age group remains questionable, even in the large cohort that has never