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Rate of cervical cancer screening lower for victims of sexual abuse

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Traumatic memories of abuse could be preventing some women from undergoing a lab test for cervical cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.

Researchers from the U.K.'s National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPA) compiled online survey results from 135 women with a history of sexual abuse. Less than 50 percent of the participants, who were between the ages of 24 and 65, said they had received a lab test for the sometimes deadly disease within the past three years, which is the recommended timeframe. In addition, more than 20 percent reported that the procedure was painful, while almost 30 percent said they felt powerless during the examination.

"Self worth, self esteem and self concept....impact on how women access health services or care for and value themselves," wrote Sarah Kelly, the NAPA training and development manager. "Many of the female survivors we hear from talk about their fears and anxieties when accessing services, particularly sexual health."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that early detection leads to a dramatically increased chance of surviving cervical cancer, which ends the lives of about one-third of the almost 12,500 women who are diagnosed annually.

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