Alarming Racial Disparities in Cervical Cancer Mortality Rates

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The risk of dying from cervical cancer may be higher than previously thought.
The risk of dying from cervical cancer may be higher than previously thought.

Inadequate access to cervical cancer screening and preventive care may be part of an alarming trend when it comes to cervical cancer mortality rates. A new analysis published online in Cancer has found the risk of dying from cervical cancer is higher than previously thought. Unlike prior estimates that also included women who had undergone a hysterectomy and were therefore no longer at risk, this analysis only included women with a cervix.1

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues used estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics and the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Mortality Database to re-examine cervical cancer mortality rates from 2002 to 2012 in the United States. They found that black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer at a rate 77% higher than previously thought. White women are dying at a rate 47% higher. The corrected mortality rate in black women was 10.1 per 100,000 women, compared with 5.7 per 100,000 uncorrected. The corrected rate in white women was 4.7 per 100,000 compared with 3.2 per 100,000 uncorrected. 

The disparity in mortality between races was underestimated by 44%. In addition, an analysis of the corrected rates over the decade revealed that white women's rates of death from cervical cancer decreased by 0.8% per year compared with an annual decrease of 3.6% in black women. The study showed that black women who were 85 years old or older had the highest corrected rate (37.2 deaths per 100,000).


1. Beavis AL, Gravitt PE, Rositch AF. Hysterectomy-corrected cervical cancer mortality rates reveal a larger racial disparity in the United States. Cancer. 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30507 [Epub ahead of print]

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