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Br J Gen Pract. 1997 Oct;47(423):645-6.

Why do we continue to take unnecessary smears?

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  • 1Centre for Cancer Epidemiology, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, University of Manchester.


A questionnaire survey of all general practices and family planning doctors in Manchester Health Authority was undertaken to determine why many more smears are taken in primary care than are scheduled by the screening programme. An 82% response rate was obtained. The indications for additional smear tests most frequently cited by responders were postcoital (88%), postmenopausal (84%), or intermenstrual bleeding (55%); genital warts (87%); and multiple sexual partners (52%). Forty-six per cent think that a woman should have a repeat test within one year of her first ever test. We discuss why these are not valid indications for additional smear tests.

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