Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore suggested that cervical cancer kills more women that previously estimated. The report was published in the journal Cancer. Because of cancer screenings, cervical cancer has been significantly reduced over the last four decades, but for black women, cervical cancer is higher and remains deadly.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the cervix in a woman’s body. The cervix is in the lower and narrow end of a woman’s uterus. It connects the vagina to the upper part of the uterus or womb. Cervical cancer is preventable due to screening tests and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. When found early, this type of cancer is treatable, and the chances of survival are high.
Anne Rositch, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology a the Bloomberg School and co-author of the study, used data from a ten-year study from the National Center for Health Statistics and the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Mortality Database. According to USA Today women who have had their crevixes “removed through hysterectomies” were not included in the study because they had the chance to develop cervical cancer. The data covers the years 2002 to 2012.
According to Medical News Daily, the cervical cancer mortality rate for white women is “47 percent higher” than previously thought. In black women, the death rate is “77 percent higher than the previous estimate of 5.7 per 100,000.” Cervical cancer mortality rates for black and white women were underestimated by at least 44 percent.
Rositch stated that their new data suggested that while mortality in cervical cancer mortality is “narrowing,” it should remain an “area of focus.” Researchers say that women in their 20s and 30s who receive the HPV vaccine see a narrowing of the mortality rate between black and white women. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed, and just over 4,000 women will die from the disease.
Rositch’s report stated that the “public health efforts should focus on appropriate screening and adequate treatment” in older black women. Her research reported that women over 65 were the ones most likely to die from cervical cancer. This is mainly because there are no guidelines for women over 65 to have cervical cancer screenings. More education and research are further needed.
By Cheryl Werber