Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that is often referred to as disproportionate, which means it unfairly affects some more than others. Even though the highest rate of cervical cancer is among Hispanic/Latino women, the highest death rate from cervical cancer is among African American/Black women.They are twice as likely to die from it than white women.
Why cervical cancer death is disproportionate
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a lack of screening is the primary reason for the disproportionate mortality rate among black women due to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers, and it can be treated if it is detected early.
For this reason, The American Cancer Society recommends that all women take the following important steps:
- Start cervical cancer screening no later than age 21 and have a Pap test done every year.
- Women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years once they have reached age 30. Women older than 30 should get screened every 3 years with a Pap test, plus the human papilloma virus (HPV) test.
- Women 70 years of age or older who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having cervical cancer testing.
- Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having cervical cancer testing.
- Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix need to continue cervical cancer screening.
The importance of the HPV test
Most cervical cancer is caused by genital human papillomavirus, or HPV, infection. HPV is an STD, or sexually transmitted disease, that can lead to cervical cancer as well as cancer of the anus, vulva, vagina and throat.
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