Yes, there is actually an age cutoff in which a woman just might be too old to develop cervical cancer — which in almost every case is driven by the HPV virus.
Christine O’Connor, MD, answers to if a woman can be too old to develop cervical cancer.
Should elderly women get a Pap smear?
“Cervical cancer rates are highest in the 35-44 age range; after this peak, the rates decline,” says Christine O’Connor, MD, FACOG, Director Adolescent Gynecology and Well Woman Care, Weinberg Center for Women’s Health, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD.
“For women who have had previous screening with normal Pap smears and are negative for high risk HPV, the risk of cervical cancer is minimal after 65 years old.
“Screening is not recommended in these patients, or in patients who have had a previous hysterectomy where the cervix was removed.”
Though the risk of cervical cancer is minimal in women of elderly age, this does not mean they are immune to this disease.
It’s just that the risk isn’t high enough for doctors to recommend regular screening in women over age 65.
Women of Elderly Age DO Get Cervical Cancer
The rate of diagnosis according to the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program is as follows:
- 11.4 percent of yearly diagnosed cases in the U.S. are in 65 to 74 year olds.
- In those 75 to 84 it’s 5.9 percent.
- In those over 84 it’s 2.5 percent.
So definitely, very elderly women can be diagnosed with cervical cancer, but this disease should not be anywhere near the top of their list of health worries.
There is no such thing as being immune to a gynecological cancer due to old age, but risks do change with different diseases and age brackets.
Women should discuss screening protocols for cervical cancer and other illnesses with their physicians.
If you see a primary care physician and a gynecologist for annual health and wellness exams, it will be easier for your doctor to tailor an individual health-check program.