Cervical Cancer on the Rise, What You Can Do

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What is the newest research saying about cervical cancer? What is the best way to prevent cervical cancer?

Researchers from UCLA recently completed a study that analyzed the factors related to the increase of stage 4 cervical cancer in the United States. The study was published in the International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer. They analyzed data from the United States Cancer Statistics program from 2001 to 2018 and concluded the study with these three main points:

  • Black women have a higher incidence rate of late-stage cervical cancer compared to white women
  • White women have had a larger annual increase in late-stage cervical cancer
  • Compared to black women, white women have lower rates of guideline screening and vaccination1

Between the years 2001 to 2018, 29,715 women were diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer. The rate of late-stage cervical cancer has increased at a rate of 1.3% each year. Black women are diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer at a rate of 1.55 per 100,000 women versus white women who are diagnosed at a rate of 0.92 per 100,000 women1.

Cervical cancer occurs when cancerous cells grow within the cervix which is located on the bottom part of the uterus where the uterus and the vagina connect. All women are at risk for cervical cancer but there are risk factors that can increase risk such as human papillomavirus (HPV), smoking, sexually transmitted diseases / infections, long-term use of birth control, having given birth to three or more children, and having several sexual partners3.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022 there will be approximately 14,100 new cases of invasive cervical cancer and 4,280 women will die from cervical cancer in the US2. The majority of cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a virus that is spread by having sex with someone who has HPV. There are several types of HPV and some of them cause damage to a woman’s cervix and lead to cervical cancer. HPV is very common and often has no symptoms. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV and get routine cervical cancer screenings. The HPV vaccine is also commonly known as Gardasil. It is recommended for all males and females from the age of 9 to 26 years old. It is a 2 or 3-dose series depending on what age you get vaccinated. In some cases, it may also be recommended for adults up to the age of 45 years old.

Screening tests for cervical cancer are recommended to start when a woman is 21 years old. The most common test is called the Pap test or Pap smear. The Pap test is routinely done every three years at an annual gynecologist appointment. If cervical cancer is caught in the early stages, it can be treated and go into remission.

CNN quoted Dr. Alex Francoeur, one of the researchers of the study as saying “When we looked more closely at cervical cancer, we found that, kind of this paradoxical finding, where when you look at early-stage cervical cancer, we’re seeing a decrease in the United States, but then when you look at advanced stage, or metastatic cervical cancer, we’re actually seeing the opposite trend with an increasing rate in the United States. Cervical cancer is incredibly preventable with proper screening as well as access to vaccinations for the HPV virus.”4 The best way to prevent cervical cancer has continued to be vaccination (if eligible) and routine screening. Don’t hesitate, make sure you are up to date on your routine screening and vaccination to help prevent cervical cancer.

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  1. Francoeur AA, Liao C, Casear MA, et al The increasing incidence of stage IV cervical cancer in the USA: what factors are related? International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer Published Online First: 18 August 2022. doi: 10.1136/ijgc-2022-003728
  2. Cervical cancer statistics: Types of cervical cancer. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2022
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 14). Cervical cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 23, 2022
  4. Thomas, N. (2022, August 22). Advanced stage cervical cancer is rising in white and black women in the US. CNN. Retrieved August 23, 2022

Posted in: Women's Health

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