Gynecologic Cancer Screening Risks

Gynecologic Cancer Screening Risks

At this time, only cervical cancer has recommended screening guidelines. Research is ongoing to identify reliable methods to screen for gynecologic cancer.

Gynecologic Cancer Screening Risks

Screening for gynecologic cancer can catch tumors while they are still small and easy to treat. However, it is important to know that gynecologic cancer screening tests have potential risks. These risks are outlined below, but should be considered along with consultation with your doctor. Your doctor can answer any questions you may have about screening risks and benefits.

Gynecologic cancer screening risks include:

  • False-Negative Test Results: A screening test does not show signs of cancer even though a cancer is present. No treatment is given even though it may be necessary.
  • False-Positive Test Results: A screening test shows signs of cancer when a cancer is not actually present. Additional tests and treatments are given when they are not needed.
  • Overdiagnosis: Overdiagnosis occurs when a cancer has been identified and treated even though it is asymptomatic or has not bothered the individual before, and which may not become life-threatening. In these cases, it is unknown if treatment will help a patient live longer or if treatment will cause more harm or lead to late-term side effects.
  • Pap tests for cervical cancer may not always catch the presence of cancerous cells.
  • Cancer screening tests may not help you live longer.
  • You may bleed slightly after a pap test.
  • You may experience some pressure or discomfort during the pap test.

Your doctor will help you determine if you are at high risk for developing gynecologic cancer. Together, you will weigh gynecologic cancer screening risks as well as the potential benefits so that you can make an informed decision about your health.

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