Swedish Researchers have discovered that those who were diagnosed with cervical cancer via screening had a 92% chance of complete recovery, compared to 66% of those diagnosed after going to the doctor with symptoms.
The smear test does not diagnose cervical cancer; it checks for changes in cells that might indicate the disease. However, those identified with cancer thanks to the test tend to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when it has not spread.
The research studied 1,230 women with cervical cancer in Sweden between 1999 and 2011, looking at how they were diagnosed.
The Swedish screening programme is much like that in England, where women aged 25 to 49 are offered a test every three years, and those aged 50 to 64 one every five years. Not all go regularly. Many are put off by its invasive nature.
The academics, from the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University, wanted to see if the programme actually resulted in better outcomes, or simply led to earlier diagnosis without postponing the time of death.
They concluded that screening did result in a “very favourable prognosis compared to cases detected by symptoms”.