A woman’s risk of dying of cervical cancer is higher than long believed, particularly among older and Black women, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research suggests.
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. The new figures reflect a change in how mortality rates are calculated. By excluding women who have had hysterectomies, which typically involves the removal of the cervix and therefore reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer to zero, the researchers say these data paint a more accurate picture of who is getting cervical cancer – and can be used to better understand how to prevent it.
Meanwhile, many of those who are dying are over the age of 65, a cutoff point where guidelines no longer recommend women with cervixes be regularly screened for cervical cancer. With routine screening, cervical cancer is preventable. In the United States, there are 12,000 cases of cervical cancer each year and around 4,000 deaths.
The findings, published January 23 in the journal Cancer, highlight the need to understand the risks associated with cervical cancer in older and Black women and determine both the best screening and treatment options for these women.