Cervical cancer is a preventable disease among women who have access to screening tests and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, and when the disease is detected in its early stages, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival.1 The number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from the disease have significantly decreased over the past 40 years.2  However, a recent study published in the journal Cancer, has found that the rate of death from cervical cancer is considerably higher than previous estimates.3 The death rate from cervical cancer is determined by comparing the number of women who die from cervical cancer to the population who are at risk of the disease. Previous estimates found that the death rate from cervical cancer was 5.7 per 100,000 in black women and 3.2 per 100,00 in white women, and the general population in these past studies, included women who had hysterectomies.3

A woman who has had a hysterectomy is not at risk of cervical cancer because the cervix is typically removed in the procedure. The researchers in the new study published in the journal Cancer, used the National Center for Health Statistics county mortality data from 2000 to 2012 and did not include women who had hysterectomies in the at-risk population. They found that the corrected mortality rate was 10.1 per 100,000 for black women and 4.7 per 100,000 for white women. Without the correction, the disparity in mortality between races was underestimated by 44%, and black women who were 85 years old or older had the highest corrected rate: 37.2 deaths per 100,000.3 The researchers also found that the rates decreased at 0.8% per year in the population of white women, whereas the annual decrease for black women was 3.6%.  The results of this study have brought new awareness to the impact of cervical cancer and indicate that there is a need to increase public health efforts aimed at preventing and managing the disease, especially among the most vulnerable population of women.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, January 03). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016, June 20). Cervical Cancer Statistics. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/statistics/index.htm
  3. Beavis, A., Gravitt, P., & Rositch, A. (2017, January 23). Hysterectomy-Corrected Cervical Cancer Mortality Rates Reveal a Larger Racial Disparity in the United States. Cancer, [Epub ahead of print]. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Hysterectomy-corrected+cervical+cancer+mortality+rates+reveal+a+larger+racial+disparity+in+the+United+States