To evaluate patient compliance with Papanicolaou (Pap) smear screening after tubal ligation compared with other methods of birth control in patients who develop cervical cancer, a retrospective review of 262 women with cervical cancer diagnosed at age ≤ 70 years was undertaken at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from January 1987 to December 1995. Demographic data, stage of the disease, histologic type, history of smoking, history of sexually transmitted disease (STD), and birth control use were recorded. The Pap screening history was obtained from all the patients. Women who had a bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) were compared with those who did not have this form of birth control. The date and result of their last Pap test prior to their diagnosis of cervical cancer was noted. Two hundred fourteen women with cervical cancer were evaluable. The clinical stage, mean age, history of smoking, and history of STD were similar for both groups. Gravidity among the BTL group was higher than in the non-BTL group (p < 0.01). Forty-eight (22.4%) women had a previous BTL. Twenty-seven of these 48 patients (56.3%) did not have a Pap smear within 3 years prior to the diagnosis of cervical cancer. Of the 166 patients, 61 (36.7%) did not have a Pap test within 3 years (p < 0.05). Fourteen women (29.2%) in the tubal ligation group never returned for a Pap test following the BTL. An average of 6.2 ± 5.9 years elapsed since the last Pap test in the BTL group, with 4.0 ± 5.1 years in the nontubal ligation group (p < 0.05). There was a correlation between the number of years since BTL (14.2 ± 7.7) to the number of years since the last Pap test (6.2 ± 5.9) (p < 0.05). Women who have had a BTL should be considered high risk because of poor screening compliance. A Pap test every 3 years is not adequate in this high-risk population group. We advocate improved counseling regarding the importance of continued annual Pap screening for women who are considering tubal ligation.
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