The article on this topic on April 20 raises the important issue of screening for cervical cancer. In the absence of national guidelines for such screening, it may be helpful for those in Portugal to know the latest guidelines released by the US Preventive Services Task Force.
These recommend that women aged 21 to 65 be screened by a Pap smear every three years. Their view is that screening in women younger than 21 or in those older than 65 is likely to have more harm than benefit. After several negative smears women over 65 or those who have had a hysterectomy no longer require screening.
The vaccination of girls against HPV infection will greatly reduce the frequency of cervical cancer in future years.
For those interested in learning more about HPV infection (a necessary cause for almost all cases of cervical cancer) is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/default.htm
PROFESSOR DAVID M PATON
Nanaimo BC Canada