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Your Healthy Family: Late stage cervical cancer on the rise

Posted at 7:34 AM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 07:34:11-04

A new study shows our country is seeing more cases of late-stage cervical cancer.

Doctors say advanced stage cervical cancer has a five-year survival rate of less than 20 percent.

"If not diagnosed early and caught in the later stage, it's very difficult to treat, like all cancers," Dr. Sujatha Reddy, an OBGYN with Premier Care for Women, said

She said the rate of early-stage cervical cancer went down from 2001 to 2018, but the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer reports that cases of advanced stage-four cervical cancer increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent. It said the sharpest increase was in white women — especially in the south, ages 40 to 44. Rates also increased in black women, who are most affected overall by the disease.

"If you don't come for screenings, we can't find cancer early. They only present when you have symptoms, and very often, symptoms mean an advanced or late-stage cancer," Dr. Reddy said.

She said that's why annual exams are so important. Smoking is another risk factor for cervical cancer. Since most are caused by the Human Papillomavirus, Dr. Reddy said if you’re eligible, get the HPV vaccine.

"It is a vaccine to prevent cancer. I mean, something you might see in Star Trek, right? It's incredible. So, the HPV vaccine should really be helping us prevent cancer down the road," she said.

Some other important data from the study:

  • Researchers say a lack of access to screening and health care are associated with higher rates of late-stage cervical cancer among Black and Hispanic women
  • White women were more likely to report no cervical cancer screenings, in over five years
  • White teens have the lowest rate of HPV vaccination