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Invited Commentary
Less Is More
June 14, 2010

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

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco.

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

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