SAN FRANCISCO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)Deaths from cervical cancer have declined, but disparities – particularly among the uninsured – remain a concern, as nearly 29% of uninsured white women and more than 17% of uninsured Hispanic women have not been screened in the past 5 years, according to Dr. David Leighton Howard.

To assess understanding of the term “Pap smear” as a possible contributor to low screening rates, Dr. Howard and his colleagues surveyed both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking women and found that about two-thirds of the 160 English-speaking and 123 Spanish-speaking respondents were unable to distinguish between a pelvic exam and a Pap smear, but that a comparable percentage in both groups (74% and 70%, respectively), were able to identify at least one correct descriptor of the term. Those able to identify correct descriptors were more likely to be older (37 years vs. 29 years for English-speaking women and 36 years vs. 30 years for Spanish-speaking women), Dr. Howard of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, U.S. Air Force, Hampton, Va., reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Paradoxically, Dr. Howard said, Spanish-speaking women were significantly less likely than were English-speaking women to use incorrect descriptors for the term Pap smear. Fewer said a Pap smear is the same as a pelvic examination (43% vs. 74%), is a test for a sexually transmitted disease (24% vs. 56%), is a pregnancy test (17% vs. 36%), or is a checkup (20% vs. 53%).

In a video interview, Dr. Howard discussed his findings, as well as the need for more research into the factors behind the age and ethnicity associations in his study.


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