January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

The researchers found that black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer at a rate 77 percent higher than previously thought, while white women are dying at a rate 47 percent higher.

A total of about 19.5 million cancer deaths were recorded in the United States between 1980 and 2014, with lung cancer being the biggest killer.

Earlier estimates included woman who had undergone a hysterectomy and were no longer at risk for cervical cancer. For the study, researchers sought to estimate age-standardized mortality rates by USA county from 29 cancers. Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the US the organization says.

However, the new study shows that not all Americans have benefited from the medical advances in cancer care.

This was a county by county analysis of deadly cancer dating back to 1980.

The researchers found that black women have a mortality rate of 10.1 per 100,000. Black women are more likely to have hysterectomies, and at younger ages, compared to white women, largely because black women are more susceptible to fibroids (benign masses in the uterus) which can cause symptoms requiring surgery. By comparison, the death rate from lung cancer in Miami-Dade was about 34 of every 100,000 people. Cancer of the cervix - the neck of the womb - affects women of all ages, but it is most common in those women aged between 30 to 45 years.

Australian Open: Birthday girl Kerber survives another scare, advances to Round 3
The 11th seed Elina Svitolina won the most important points against Julia Boserup to notch a 6-4 6-1 triumph. Williams will next play either China's Duan Yingying or fellow American Varvara Lepchenko.

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Deputy Director and Chair of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park, says, "The gap in incidence and death rates from cervical cancer based on racial disparities is a wake-up call, a call to action".

Since the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was introduced in 2006, CDC reports there has been a 64 percent reduction in vaccine-type HPV infections among teen girls in the United States. American Indians and Alaskan natives have the lowest risk of cervical cancer in this country, according to the American Cancer Society. But routine screening can help prevent it.

"ASCO commends the authors for this very important study and remains committed to ensuring all individuals have access to the cancer prevention and treatment services they need".

The likelihood of developing cervical cancer can be increased by tobacco usage, stress, giving birth before the age of 17, three or more pregnancies, long-term use of oral contraceptives and poor diet choices. Tests for specific HPV strains can support earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer. As oncologists, we continually strive to personalize care for the individual patient, but this study reinforces the importance of tailoring our cancer prevention and treatment efforts to geographic areas as well.

"Death rates differ dramatically between different types of cancers, and certain regions saw great progress in reducing cancer deaths and others fell behind", said lead researcher Dr. Christopher Murray.

  • Marjorie Miles