Objective: Women with cervical carcinoma and residing in the Calgary Health Region between 1996 and 2001 were audited to characterize factors in the opportunistic cervical cancer screening pathway contributing to screening failures.
Materials and Methods: The cohort consisted of 246 women. Information on their Pap tests and colposcopic/gynecologic examinations was obtained from the files of Calgary Laboratory Services and their colposcopic/cancer center treatment charts. Screening failure factors were defined, and frequencies were calculated.
Results: Screening failure factors were as follows: (1) 41 (16.7%) were not screened, that is, no Pap test screening; (2) 29 (11.8%) were underscreened, that is, no Pap test within 12 months of diagnosis; (3) 28 (13.7%) were undersampled, that is, the Pap test result was negative; (4) 34 (13.8%) had no referral for a colposcopy/gynecology examination, and/or it was delayed for more than 3 months; (5) 18 (13.2%) had delayed referral for examination of an atypical glandular cell–high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion and higher Pap test for more than 3 months; and (6) 73 (55.3%) were underdiagnosed, that is, the diagnosis in colposcopy examination was less than malignant. Underreported Pap tests and delayed Pap test reporting could not be fully investigated, but limited evidence suggested that underreporting contributed to some failures.
Conclusions: Factors other than recruitment to cytological screening need targeted improvement if the region’s cervical cancer prevention program is to be more effective.