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Cancer risk higher in women previously treated for pre-cancerous cells on cervix

Cervical and vaginal cancer is a big risk to women previously treated for abnormal cells on the cervix, according to a study.

Researchers from Sweden have found a correlation between females who have previously undergone treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN3) and a greater chance of developing and dying from the diseases compared with the general female population.

The findings, which are published online in the BMJ, also show that this risk accelerates above the age of 60.

Cytology screening to prevent cervical cancer has proven a great success in reducing deaths from cervical cancer. However, the risk of cervical cancer is not eliminated when abnormal cells are detected and removed, and so women who have been identified as carrying abnormal cells are naturally at greater risk of suffering from a related condition.

It is the first study to investigate how ageing affects the risk of death from cervical cancer after treatment of CIN3.

To see how age affected this risk, the researchers from Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Karolinska Institute analysed data from the Swedish Cancer Registry.

The registry contained information on 150,883 women with CIN3, of which 1,089 had a diagnosis of invasive cervical cancer and 147 had a diagnosis of vaginal cancer. Some 302 and 53 women, respectively, had died of these diseases.

An increased risk of invasive cervical and invasive vaginal cancer was found as women once treated for CIN3 grew older.

Treatment later in life also heightened this risk. After adjusting for duration of follow-up and treatment period, for instance, there was a fivefold increase in risk for women treated at age 60-69 compared with those aged 30-39.

Despite the findings, published in the BMJ, researchers claim that patients are well protected from cervical cancer after treatment for CIN3.

They state that only a minority of women treated for the condition will develop cancer and die from the disease, although they recommend those who have received treatment undergo follow up appointments just to be sure.

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