Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are looking to increase awareness about screening for cervical cancer after a recent report showed about 8 million women ages 21 to 65 have not been screened in the past five years.
Released Nov. 7, the report is particularly alarming because more than half of new cervical cancer cases occur among women who have never or rarely been screened, according to the CDC. Researchers examined the number of cervical cancer cases that occurred between 2007 and 2011, using the CDCs National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program.
Among the studys key findings were that 11.4% of women in 2012 said they had not been screened for cervical cancer. Of that number, 23.1% of the women had no health insurance and 25.5% did not have a regular healthcare provider. The percentage of women who hadnt been screened was higher for older women at 12.6%, Asians/Pacific Islanders at 19.7% and American Indians/Alaska Natives at 16.5%. The South had the highest rate of cervical cancer, the largest number of cervical cancer deaths and the most women who had not been screened in the past five years.
More than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year and as many as 93% of cervical cancers could be prevented through screening, according to the report.
Every visit to a provider can be an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer by making sure women are referred for screening appropriately, CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias, PhD said in a news release. We must increase our efforts to make sure that all women understand the importance of getting screened for cervical cancer. No woman should die from cervical cancer.
CDC researchers recommend doctors, nurses and health systems work to help women understand what screening tests are best and when they should get screened, make sure patients receive their results and follow-up care in a timely manner and encourage preteens and teens get vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus. Recommendations for women include learning about screening options and getting their sons and daughters vaccinated against HPV. A second recent CDC study showed the HPV vaccine is underused with only one in three girls and one in seven boys had receiving the three-dose series in 2013. Research has shown that the HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening combined can prevent as many as 93% of new cervical cancer cases, according to the CDC.
The CDCs National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening services to underserved women nationwide.
Read the full study at http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.