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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2017 May;26(3). doi: 10.1111/ecc.12706. Epub 2017 May 4.

Risk of cervical cancer in symptomatic women aged ≥40 in primary care: A case-control study using electronic records.

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University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.


There are approximately 3,000 new UK diagnoses of cervical cancer annually, with many women presenting symptomatically. We aimed to identify and quantify features of cervical cancer in primary care in a case-control study in the UK. Putative features of cervical cancer were identified, and odd ratios and positive predictive values (PPVs) were calculated. About 1,006 women aged ≥40 years diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,992 age-, sex- and practice-matched controls were selected from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Median age at diagnosis was 61 years (interquartile range 51-75). Seven symptoms and two abnormal investigations were associated with cervical cancer: post-menopausal bleeding, odds ratio 43 (95% confidence interval 25, 75); vaginal discharge or vaginitis 8.8 (5.2, 15), intermenstrual bleeding 4.7 (1.6, 14); haematuria 4.6 (2.1, 10); irregular menstruation 3.8 (1.6, 9.0); urinary tract infection 1.9 (1.3, 2.8); abdominal pain 1.8 (1.4, 2.5); high white cell count 5.1 (2.9, 8.8) and low haemoglobin 2.6 (1.8, 3.8): all p < .005. The PPV of cervical cancer in women aged ≥55 with post-menopausal bleeding was 4.6% (2.5, 8.3). Other than for post-menopausal bleeding no symptom is high risk. Some symptoms, particularly haematuria, may be helpful. The primary care clinician must consider the unlikely diagnosis when the likely diagnosis does not settle with treatment.


cervical neoplasm; primary health care; symptoms

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