Death Rates from Cervical Cancer in the U.S. May Have Been Underestimated
While rare in the United States, cervical cancer affects thousands of women of every age and background. Although modern science has made great advances in the detection of this potentially fatal disease, a new study suggests that more women are dying than previously thought.
According to a study out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, cervical cancer may be an underestimated killer of women. Appearing in the journal Cancer, the study analyzed existing data about cervical cancer fatalities. After assessing the numbers from a fresh angle, the researchers found that white women are dying from the disease at a rate 47 percent higher than previously imagined, while black women are dying at a 77 percent higher rate.
What's Behind the New Numbers?
Due to modern advances in early detection, most health experts believed cervical cancer had made a substantial retreat in the U.S. In reality, however, existing data appears to have been distorted by the inclusion of women who had undergone hysterectomies.
Because this procedure usually involves the removal of the cervix, hysterectomies ensure that women are no longer susceptible to this type of cancer. After excluding women with histories of hysterectomies, the researcher found a sizable difference in death rates, compared to previous calculations which included these women.
Each year, there are around 12,000 cases of cervical cancer in the United States. Sadly, about 4,000 of these women will die from the disease. With regular screening, cervical cancer is preventable; however, according to the researchers of this study, many of the women who are dying are over the age of 65, which represents the cutoff point where guidelines stop recommending screenings.
According to the study's lead author, this latest research shows that any woman is at risk of dying from cervical cancer as long as she retains her cervix. In turn, the researchers suggest that women continue getting screened even after the age of 65.