Screening for cervical cancer among low-risk populations: Orthodox jewish women as a model

Revital Caspi, Eduardo Schejter, Asnat Groutz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore the prevalence of abnormal Papanicolaou (PAP) smears among asymptomatic Orthodox Jewish women, characterized by conservative sexual habits, in comparison to secular Jewish women. Methods: A retrospective analytical cohort study of 600 consecutive PAP smears, performed as a screening test on asymptomatic Orthodox Jewish women (mean age 43.4 ± 12.6 years), compared to 600 consecutive smears performed on secular Jewish women (mean age 38.2 ± 11.5 years). Primary outcome measures comprised incidence and clinical significance of abnormal cytological findings among the two subgroups. Secondary outcome measures included possible risk factors for abnormal cytological findings within the study population. Results: In the Orthodox group, only seven (1.2%) PAP smears were interpreted as abnormal, compared with 33 (5.5%) abnormal smears among the secular group (p < 0.001). All seven abnormal PAP smears from the Orthodox Jewish group were classified as atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), compared with 16 ASCUS smears and 17 low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion smears in the secular group (2.67% and 2.83% of the secular women, respectively). The vast majority of ASCUS cases in the Orthodox Jewish group were followed up with repeated normal PAP smears. Conclusions: The incidence rate of abnormal PAP smears taken as a routine screening test among Orthodox Jewish women is very low (1.2%). Furthermore, the vast majority of abnormal smears in these women were later found to be false positive, with no clinical significance. These findings raise doubt as to the need for systematic screening and/or comprehensive vaccination against the papilloma virus among low-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-751
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016


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