Millions of women are having an unnecessary Pap smear test for cervical cancer. Most have had a hysterectomy, and so don't even have a cervix, and some are over the age of 65 and should not be screened.
Around 14 million women in the US alone are having an unnecessary test every year, researchers have discovered. Although it's been recognised for more than 10 years that the smear test is over-used, the research team from the University of Utah were "shocked" to see the extent of the problem.
Around two-thirds of the women being tested had had a hysterectomy and their cervix had been removed-and so their chances of developing cervical cancer were non-existent. Similarly, women over the age of 65 with no history of cancer were also having the test every year, even though their chance of developing the cancer at that stage of their life is extremely low. Testing of the over-65s goes against current medical guidelines, but is regularly carried out, nonetheless.
(Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12607)