Unnecessary Pap Smears Discussion Forum

This post has been created to provide an additional forum for discussion, and is a continuation of the old Blogcritics’ Unnecessary Pap Smears discussion.  The original Blogcritics Unnecessary Pap Smears discussion had more than 10,000 comments, but the comments were deleted following changes to the Blogcritics’ site.

Fortunately, the comments from Blogcritics have since been recovered and are preserved here: http://unnecessarypapsmears.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/over-10000-lost-comments-on-unnecessary-pap-smears-find-a-home/   This post also provides a ‘part three’ continuation of the ‘part two’ discussion forum that exists on this site: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2013/09/22/discussion-forum/

Thank you Alex for suggesting the addition of an open forum devoted to discussion on this blog.

3,445 comments

  1. Hi ladies,
    Having a girly night in tonight which means we get a bit daft once the wine kicks in, we got onto the subject of hair styles
    (The private ones ) Annette has absolutely nothing I’m a supporter of the landing strip,
    and a friend who’s staying with us for a couple of days is completely au natural
    this has left us wondering if the nurses that pester so persistently have little Hitler ones, in line with the regime they serve.
    Hugs Jules x.

    • OMG Jules, thats brilliant. One of the “Patronising Cows” on a youtube video said it doesnt matter either way as she has seen it all. I just commented I dont care I am still not interested.

  2. Hi ladies,
    I second that last comment, and wish all the wonderful women on the site a terrific Christmas and a fantastic new year.
    Hugs Jules & Annette xxx.

  3. Merry Christmas everyone!

    Thanks for all the support and discussion here. Great to see women supporting each other like this and being welcoming to open discussion.

    Hugs,
    Ozphoenix

  4. Hi ladies,
    Well friends that’s yet another year passed and somehow we are all still here, despite those murderous vagina’s we own trying to kill us at every available opportunity ( according to some)
    I’ve been reading up on some of the stats from the office of national statistics and according to them 9% of female cancers occur after the age of 75, this raises the question if they can’t find a way to increase their figures for the young, could they be tempted to raise the age limit to try and “recapture women ”that have been released from the program at 65 to bolster their figures as the majority of these women have been mostly compliant in the past
    Hugs Jules x.

  5. Hi ladies,
    I could do with a little help, I’ve been searching for just how prevalent cervical cancer actually is , and there is conflicting information on most of the searches I’ve undertaken, some have said that cervical cancer is the 16th others the 18th and on one report that it’s not even in the top 20, does anyone know the actual “true figure”,during my search on the cancer research uk site I noticed that they now report that breast cancer has now taken over the number one top spot (overtaking lung and bowel cancer) to become the number one female cancer, so ladies don’t forget to conduct you’re own little checks,
    nobody knows you’re boobs better than yourself, the only thing that is wrong with mine is that one appears to be slightly smaller than the other, which has always been the case anyway.
    Hugs Jules x.

    • Here is the data you need if you live in the US: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/cervix.html

      Mouse over year marks in the graph to get per 100k incidence rates. Cervical cancer is relatively uncommon and risk factors (smoking, sex stuff and being a DES daughter) are well understood.

      One problem is that most sites only provide the top 10 cancer related causes of death. To get the top 20 with any degree of accuracy you will probably have to run some of the numbers yourself.

      Another problem I suspect you are running into is likely the same problem I have run into: there are multiple sets of data on cancer statistics. In the US rates vary by state, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and, of course, by actual risk factors. Someone will do something to the data set to adjust for some risk factor or other and then that data set will be used incorrectly down the line by someone else to make a claim that the data set shouldn’t ever have been used to make.

      This is most common in popular press articles by authors who make claims not supported by the study they are covering. Though the whole field of science surrounding cervical cancer is like a slightly intoxicated game of telephone.

      For example, wikipedia claims that the pap smear prevents 80% of cervical cancer. It doesn’t. No one knows how much, if any, preventative value the pap smear has. I may or may not know, I’m getting my data reviewed to make sure I didn’t screw up somewhere, but, thus far, there is no published study that looks at differences in outcomes between women who have had or not had the pap smear. The origin of that 80% claim, which you can find by going through a chain of four citations, ends with an IARC report on cervical cancer, in finland specifically. IARC does say what wikipedia claims they say. Instead, they say that, since the introduction of the pap smear, cervical cancer rates have declined in finland by 80%. Which is true. But you will also note that they aren’t saying its because of the pap smear. Two things can occur at the same point in time and not be causally linked. I would speculate that they want the reader to draw that conclusion, but they aren’t saying it because they can’t prove it. And they can’t prove it because its almost certainly not true.

      Finland had some of the highest use rates of DES of any country in the world until it was withdrawn as a pregnancy medication. Essentially every pregnant woman in the country between about 1930 and about 1970 was on it. DES is a known cause of cervical cancer in DES daughters (children of mothers who took DES during pregnancy) boosting risk rates by between 100-400%. In 1970 this was widely known and DES use was discontinued. Meaning no further DES daughters were born after about 1970. This was also about the same time the pap smear was introduced so it is easy to make unsupported claims provided no one actually does proper statistical work, or a cursory literature review. So, yes, cervical cancer rates declined, but it probably had little if anything to do with the pap smear and everything to do with discontinuing a drug that caused high rates of cervical cancer in first generation daughters.

      The entire field is like this. I come from a psych research background and I thought that field was bad, but its nothing compared to this.

      I will note that HPV testing has some preventative value that is backed by data and my own statistical work, but even it isn’t 80%.

    • I saw this in the Daily Fail yesterday, unlike last year I havent seen those vulgar TV adverts saying to get your cervical screening done. Maybe its been a bit toned down this year although twitter and youtube are in overdrive from the cervix stazi.

      • https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cancer-smear-test-false-negative-b2268853.html

        Another one where the smear test was negative but lady went to see GP with symptoms 3 years later and got cancer diagnosis. As in the Irish cases they won’t admit that the test is wrong, always that someone failed to assess the slide properly. Straight to solicitors to get massive NHS payout. I hope it’s a big one for this woman’s family’s sake, but hope also that they realise they can’t keep on paying out like this, and need to admit publicly that the test is useless and well past its sell-by date. Hopefully it will speed them up into ditching it altogether for voluntary HPV self-testing.

        Hardly anyone buys a newspaper these days and some still behind a paywall. Hopefully it will mean a big reduction in these rubbish stories.

      • Jess, I have to laugh at some of these comments on twitter as the topic seems to irritate everybody, screeners and non-screeners alike. Still a load of people who think the low turnout is due to the NHS not using the word “woman” in their invitations. As if that could possibly be a reason for women not to go! We get sent these invitations (summons demands) addressed to us personally. They have our name on the envelope and our name on the top of the letter. Now, how can any idiot still think that because the word “woman” is missing from the brochure, that this couldn’t possibly apply them? I almost enjoy seeing the anger that these campaigns generate, if for the wrong reasons.

  6. Interesting, this daily fail article. Not the drivellous article but a good few comments are, women know what’s normal for them and stop scaremongering, and one woman said she had that pain and was diagnosed with spondylitis!! Maybe the ride is turning away from this test!

    • Recently I’ve read that a skin cancer on a hand was attributed to HPV.
      Any comments? Does this make you think about getting HPV vax?

  7. A friend of mine who is a rape survivor asked me to quantify the risk of not having a pap smear after her doctor wasn’t able to. I am disabled and functionally retired now, but prior to becoming disabled I did a lot of work with data science and research validation. I thought this would be a 30 minute question, because it is a nationwide screening program and nothing without strong supporting data ought to have become a nationwide screening program. A year’s worth of research later I have had to rethink some of the assumptions I made about scientifically grounded health care.

    So far as I can tell, both for reasons listed on your site and from data analysis of historical statistics that I don’t see listed on your site (which isn’t surprising, I appear to be the first person to have run the numbers and then tried to do anything with that data, which ought not to be the case, its simple statistics) the pap smear has between very little and no preventative value. It was never subjected to a RCT. Indeed, so far as I can tell, we have no evidence that it has any preventative value whatsoever, other than my own work, which shows very little between a sample population of 315k women in CA between 2003-2009 and national SEER data for the same time period. I have FOIAed CA twice for the data I need to determine if this small preventative value holds up for cervical cancer rates only in their state, rather than nationwide. They have ignored both of my requests and have not even confirmed receiving them. My state’s health department has agreed to look over the data I have and I am writing it up for their review, minimally, they should be able to point out any statistical mistakes I may be making. Obviously I don’t think I am mistaken, but the point of a scientific process is to verify that I am not. It appears to me that we got into this mess by the arrogance of a few men who failed to adequately follow the scientific method. The only way out of it will be to rigorously follow the scientific method and produce conclusions that are backed by hard data.

    I will state that HPV testing (as opposed to the pap smear) does seem to have preventative value, however (1) cervical cancer is rare enough that testing probably shouldn’t be part of a nationwide screening campaign and should be risked based and opt-in instead (2) one study found that non-invasive urine tests for HPV achieve 85% of the accuracy that HPV testing does, which would provide a non-invasive method of screening for that segment of cervical cancer caused by HPV, which I feel comfortable stating is at least half of all cervical cancer based on the data I have seen and (3) a mandatory screening program of this kind may have unintended outcomes, such as medical avoidance, among a significant portion of the female population who are sexual assault survivors (or who simply don’t want to be badgered about the procedure) the detrimental health outcomes that may arise as a result of medical avoidance (and resultant delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment of unrelated conditions) has never been evaluated when considering the possible harms caused by a screening program of this kind. But it has been considered with regard to the prostate exam in men, which is one reason the USPSTF no longer recommends the prostate exam. I am not able to identify an explanation for this oversight other than sexism.

    I made a bit of progress that I would like to share here. The CDC had a statement on their cervical cancer page to the effect of 1) cervical cancer used to be the leading cancer related cause of death among women and 2) now it isn’t primarily because of the pap smear. I FOIAed them and asked that they provide a citation to support that claim, because I couldn’t find one. I got a very nice reply for a co-author of the symposium that the CDC was incorrectly citing in support of their incorrect claim. That author stated that cervical cancer never was a leading cancer related cause of death among women and confirmed that the CDC was incorrect in making that statement, they added that historical data collection methods, which grouped unrelated kinds of cancer together, may have provided support for this statement, but they also felt that this grouping wasn’t scientifically valid. From this they stated the statement itself was incorrect. That statement, along with the claim that the pap smear is the primary cause of lower cervical cancer rates among women, has now been removed from that CDC page.

    I have more to say on this topic, but my last attempt to post here never appeared that I could tell, possibly because I included citation URLs. So I’ll cut it off here.

    • Wow, thanks for that Just Commented, it backs up everything we know!

      I did my own research a long time ago and could not find anything that justifies the mass rape of women in search of this rare cancer. Its never made sense the amount of attention cervical cancer rates verses lung cancer, heart disease and others in women, which occur far more often and are pretty much ignored.

      No doctor has ever been concerned about the state of my heart but I’ve been asked plenty of questions about the state of my cervix and am I up to date with burning or cutting it (as is done to most women after an innocent smear)!

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