Ethics of “standard care” in randomised trials of screening for cervical cancer should not ignore scientific evidence and ground realities
We read with interest the recent editorial in the IJME on the ethics of standard care in screening trials for cervical cancer in India. The author takes exception to the fact that three cervical cancer screening studies in India used no screening as the control arm, in spite of evidence that the Pap smear is an effective screening tool. The author argues that the Pap smear should have been the standard arm in these trials, and that it was unethical to “withhold” this screening method from participants in the control arm of the trial. At the outset, we wish to declare a conflict of interest in our response by virtue of being investigators of one of the aforesaid trials, but feel it necessary to clarify certain facts that have been overlooked
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