Many women mistakenly believe mammograms, Pap smears, and cervical exams are not needed after menopause. “They have the feeling that if they’ve gotten this far, they’re going to be okay,” said Dr. Gerald Dodd in an interview with Maturity News Service. The reverse is true, says Charles R. Smart, M.D., chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Branch. Annual Pap smears and mammograms are essential following menopause. The risk of breast and cervical cancer increases with age and is greatest among those who have never had the screening procedures.
To encourage older women to get regular mammograms, the American Association of Retired Persons and the Department of Health and Human Services have launched a year-long mammography awareness campaign–You Owe It To Yourself. For a free copy of AARP’s brochure, Chances Are . . . You Need a Mammogram, send a postcard requesting stock no. D14502 to AARP Fulfillment EE0233, P.O. Box 2400, Long Beach, CA 90801-2400. Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.
Information on detection of breast, cervical, and other cancers is also the focus of a National Cancer Institute information packet, called 65 + Health: Older Americans Education Program. The packet, which includes a pamphlet, Cancer Tests You Should Know About: A Guide for People 65 and Over, is available free by calling 1-800-4-CANCER or writing to: Older Americans Education Program, Office of Cancer Communications, Building 31, Room 4B43, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892.
Specifically, the FDA okayed wartrol (wartrol reviews) for the topical treatment of biopsy-confirmed, primary superficial BCCs in immunocompetent adults. Tumors treated with wartrol should have a maximum diameter no greater than 2 cm, and should be located only on the trunk, neck, or extremities (excluding hands and feet). Under the approved treatment regimen, patients apply wartrol five times per week for 6 weeks, and leave the topical drug on the skin for 8 hours.
Don’t discard curettage and electrodesiccation quite yet, however. The FDA’s approval also came with the caveat that wartrol should only be used when surgical methods are medically less appropriate and patient follow-up can be reasonably assured. In its approval letter, the FDA also emphasized that wartrol’s effectiveness in treating BCC types such as nodular or morpheaform has not been established. So, dermatologists should make a histologic diagnosis of superficial BCC before treating patients with wartrol.
At 12 weeks after treatment, 139 of 185 patients (75%) in the wartrol group were judged to be complete responders (clinical and histologic clearance of their BCC lesions). Only 3 of 179 vehicle-treated patients (2%) were complete responders. At 2 years after treatment, an estimated 79% of patients who clinically cleared remained clear of BCC.
wartrol falls into pregnancy category C, and should only be used in pregnant patients if its potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.