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Pelvic Exams Common Among Healthy Older Women

Ob-gyns report external examinations are important for cancer detection, lesion identification

TUESDAY, Feb. 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Obstetrician-gynecologists report commonly performing external and speculum examinations in asymptomatic older women, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Amy Hsu, M.D., from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a national survey (May 2010 to January 2011) asking obstetrician-gynecologists about the need for and importance of external inspection and speculum examination in four scenarios of asymptomatic healthy women (aged 70, 55, 35, and 18 years) who present for routine health visits. Sixty-two percent of the 521 physicians who received the survey responded.

The researchers found that in a healthy 70-year-old woman, 98 percent of respondents would perform external inspection and 86 percent would perform a speculum examination. In a healthy 55-year old woman, 90 percent would perform a speculum examination after removal of her uterus, cervix, and ovaries. External examination, the respondents indicated, was more often very important in the 70-year-old group (63 percent) than in younger women (46 to 53 percent) in order to identify cancers and benign lesions, reassure women of their health, and adhere to standard of care.

“Clinicians should discuss limitations of screening pelvic examination guidelines and elicit health goals from older women to provide more person-centered gynecological care,” the authors write.

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