Cancer clarity

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The report, “Over-50s who skip smear test six times more likely to develop cancer” (15 January), is illogical. The study compared women who were screened for cervical cancer versus those who were not and concluded that women who were not screened were more likely to develop cervical cancer.

If the study has been reported accurately, not being screened makes a woman more likely to develop cervical cancer.

How can this simple omission cause cancer?

I lost a close friend to cervical cancer and I understand the importance of regular screening for all women, however this is science by press release without prior scrutiny by the scientific community.

The importance of the subject cannot justify mumbo jumbo science. The evidence must be reviewed by competent medical statisticians and their conclusions made available to the public.

John Black

Woodhollow House

Helensburgh

I was intrigued by your headline, “Over-50s who skip smear test six times more likely to develop 
cancer”. I read on to discover that “49 cases… per 10,000” were diagnosed in the test-skippers.

On the other hand, for those who took the tests we find only “eight cases per 10,000” in women with normal results plus “86 cervical cancer cases per 10,000” in those with abnormal results.

So we had 49 cases in 10,000 women who skipped the test and 94 cases in 20,000 women who took the test (equivalent to 47 women per 10,000).

How does this small increased risk (two in 10,000) support your headline claim that these untested women have six times more cases of cervical cancer?

Douglas Maxwell

Blackness Road

Linlithgow