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Screening for cervical cancer in emergency centers and sexually transmitted disease clinics.

Obstetrics and gynecology

Vaginal Smears, Community Health Centers, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Humans, Papanicolaou Test, Risk Factors, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Uterine Cervical Neoplasms, diagnosis

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      Abstract

      Low-income women are at increased risk of developing cervical cancer compared with middle- and upper-income women. How can poor women be reached for screening and early diagnosis of cervical cancer and its precursor stages? One answer to this question is based on the observation that a high percentage of the unscreened population has received some form of medical care within the previous 5 years. Emergency centers and sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics often provide such care to patients who lack a regular source of health care. Thus, they represent potential resources for cervical cancer screening. However, in a survey of 19 hospitals whose patient populations include a high proportion of low-income patients, only five reported a protocol for cervical cancer screening in their emergency centers. Similarly, all 11 STD clinics included in this survey reported that fewer than 5% of their female patients had a Papanicolaou smear taken even though virtually all of them received a pelvic examination. Based on these findings, it appears that health care administrators and policymakers could intensify their cancer prevention programs by mobilizing these resources for cancer control.

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      2304716

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