The diagnostic process of cervical cancer; Areas of good practice, and windows of opportunity

Afra Zaal, Marlieke A. De Wilde, M. Jitze Duk, G. C. Graziosi, Maarten Van Haaften, Silvia Von Mensdorff-Pouilly, Paul J. Van Diest, Ronald P. Zweemer, Petra H. Peeters, René H.M. Verheijen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective Despite an extensive screening programme in The Netherlands, some cases of cervical cancer are still diagnosed in late stages of disease. The aim of the present study was to investigate which elements in the diagnostic process of cervical cancer may be improved. Methods This is a retrospective study of 120 patients with cervical cancer diagnosed between January 1st 2008 and June 1st 2010 at the University Medical Center Utrecht. Patient charts, referral information, and pathology results were analyzed. Results 39.1% of cancer cases were screen or interval detected; the other 60.9% of patients had not been screened, either due to non-attendance or because they fell outside the age range for screening. The final diagnosis of cervical cancer was established by biopsy in 77 (64.2%) and by excision of the cervical transformation zone in 35 (29.2%) of the patients. Fifteen (43%) of these excisions could have been avoided if biopsies would have been taken at the first examination, and had shown invasive cancer. Conclusions Cervical cancer screening aims at early detection of precursor lesions to decrease the incidence of cancer. This in-depth analysis suggests that improvement of quality of care is to be expected from correct recognition of cervical cancer by physicians and adjustments of the screening programme to reach younger women and non-responders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-410
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Cervical cancer
  • Colposcopy
  • Diagnosis
  • Quality of care
  • Screening
  • Uterine cervix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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