The death rate from cervical cancer in the United States is considerably higher than previously estimated and the disparity in death rates between black women and white women is significantly wider, according to a study published Monday in the journal Cancer.
The rate at which black American women are dying from the disease is comparable to that of women in many poor developing nations, researchers reported. What makes the findings especially disturbing, said experts not involved in the research, is that when screening guidelines and follow-up monitoring are pursued, cervical cancer is largely preventable.
“This shows that our disparities are even worse than we feared,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. “We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them. And now I have even more concerns going forward, with the” — expected — “repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which covers screening, and the closing of family planning clinics, which do much of that screening.”
The racial disparity had been noted in earlier studies, but it had been thought to have narrowed because cervical cancer death rates for black women were declining. But this study said that the gap was far greater than believed.