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Pap tests done after hysterectomies

Washington THE WASHINGTON POST

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the majority of women who have had complete hysterectomies have had a Pap smear within the past three years. In the sample of 24,443 posthysterectomy women over age 30, 58.7 percent, or 13,481 women, had undergone the cervical cancer screening.

A complete hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and the cervix. A Pap smear screens for cancer of the cervix. Yet the screenings continue.

As to why doctors perform a procedure that offers no value — one that professional organizations recommend against — some say it has to do with the practice being entrenched.

The death rate for cervical cancer dropped by 70 percent between 1955 and 1992 as early detection and screening became more prevalent. Doctors have become accustomed to the screening, and old habits die hard.