Late-stage cervical cancer cases are on the rise A new study shows that cases of cervical cancer in late stages are increasing across the U.S., and some researchers believe that a drop in screenings for younger women could be the reason more women are identified with this deadly cancer.
The overall incidence of cervical cancers throughout the U.S. is on the decrease, and the percentage of women who suffer from advanced forms of cancer that have an estimated five-year survival rate of 17% is rising.
Researchers from The University of California Los Angeles Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology have set out to study the stage four cervical cancer developments across the country through the analysis of the data from 2001 through the year 2018. In a research paper published this week in the International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer, they discovered a 1.3 percent increase each year in the advanced stages of cancer, with the highest rise occurring among white women from the South who were between 40 and 44. Among them, the incidences increased by 4.5 percent per year.
Researchers also found out that Black women have a greater risk of developing advanced cervical cancer. The rate is 1.55 per 100,000 as compared to 0.92 per 100,000 among white women.
Dr. Alex Francoeur, a fourth-year resident in OB-GYN at UCLA Dr. Alex Francoeur, who is the lead researcher of the team’s most recent research was the result of an earlier study that was published in the year 2000 and discovered that there was a 3.39 percent increase annually in cases of advanced obstructive gynecological disease among women aged between 30 and 34.
“This is a disease that only 17% of patients will live past five years,” Francoeur explained. “So, if you’re a 30-year-old who won’t live past their 35th birthday, that’s tragic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that women begin getting Pap tests when they turn 21 and have a follow-up appointment each three-year interval, based on their history of health. The test detects precancers and, if they are detected could be surgically removed. Cervical cancer that is detected early has 5-year life expectancy that is over 90 percent.
Women also need to undergo a regular test for human papillomavirus (HPV) test as per the National Cancer Institute guidelines. The virus is related to over 90 percent of cervical and cervical cancers, as being a significant proportion of other cancers.
Francoeur believes that many women avoid routine testing because they don’t have obvious health issues. However, HPV can be the single most common sexually transmitted illness, as per the CDC which is so widespread that nearly all sexually active women are susceptible to the virus at the time of their lives.
Another issue is the fact that the most current numbers are from the year 2018, Francoeur stated and doesn’t include the COVID-19 pandemic where routine health care for many people was placed on hold.
“I worry that the last two years people have had a lot of barriers to accessing health care,” she added. “I think we might see this trend get a little worse before it gets better.”
Francoeur advised to “even if you’re in your late 20s and early 30s and you don’t have any medical problems, you need a primary health doctor because routine health exams save lives.”
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