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Invited Commentary
Less Is More
June 14, 2010

Rightsizing Cervical Cancer ScreeningComment on “Cervical Cancer Screening With Both Human Papillomavirus and Papanicolaou Testing vs Papanicolaou Testing Alone”

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2010 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2010

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(11):985-986. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.133

Cancer screening strategies must strike a delicate balance between benefits and harms. While the population at large is familiar with cancer screening benefits, screening harms are often not appreciated and generally not discussed. Harms can take many forms, including pain, inconvenience, and morbidity associated with all aspects of screening: testing, follow-up procedures, and treatments. In addition, prolonged surveillance among those with diagnoses of uncertain malignant potential can lead to substantial life disruptions and anxiety. Defining the optimal balance between benefits and harms is often difficult but imperative so that screening benefits are maximized and screening harms minimized.1