Sentinel Pap smears in 261 invasive cervical cancer patients in Italy

Sarah Igidbashian, Angelo Maggioni, Chiara Casadio, Sara Boveri, Paolo Cristoforoni, Mario Sideri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although cervical cytology screening has dramatically reduced its incidence, cervical cancer still occurs. The clinical history of 261 cervical cancer patients referred to the European Institute of Oncology between 1996 and 2006 was analysed in depth to better understand the difficulties in the diagnosis and prevention of this neoplasia in Italy. Data concerning anagraphical characteristics, tumour type and stage, Pap smear history, colposcopic and histologic data, treatment outcome were reviewed. Patients who had taken Pap smear in the 3-year time span preceding diagnosis were 199 and 55 (27.7%) of these smears were negative. A negative Pap smear was observed in 62.5% of the women with a cancer at stage IV or III. One hundred and seventy-two patients were symptomatic at diagnosis: 43 (25%) had a negative Pap smear in the 3 years preceding diagnosis while 54 (31.4%) had never done a Pap smear or had one taken more than 3 years before. Eighty-nine women were asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis; 13 patients (14.6%) had a negative Pap smear while 8 had no smear taken in the 3 years preceding diagnosis or no smear at all. The present retrospective investigation indicates that the screening system still has some critical points. Although multiple techniques and approaches have been proposed to improve the general performance of the system, prophylactic vaccination may dramatically limit the failures in an easier, and possibly more cost-effective way. We also stress that history taking and clinical examination are important tools to diagnose cervical cancers. However a clinical diagnosis requires experience, which, with the advent of more efficient screening system and prophylactic vaccination, many of the newer practising gynaecologists might lack.

Original languageEnglish
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - May 29 2009


  • Cervical cancer
  • HPV vaccine
  • Pap smear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)
  • Molecular Medicine


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