Cervical cancer death toll in US higher than previously estimated

The number of deaths from cervical cancer in the U.S. is considerably underestimated, especially the cancer's death rate among black women, a study published in Cancer found.

Researchers stratified estimates for cervical cancer deaths by age, state, year and race to determine age-standardized and age-specific annual U.S. cervical cancer mortality rates. The study used National Center for Health Statistics county mortality data from 2000 to 2012 as well as Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to compute age-specific and age-standardized mortality rates.

After correcting for the prevalence of hysterectomy and further evaluating disparities by age and race, the study found age-standardized cervical cancer death rates were higher for both black women and white women than previously estimated. Furthermore, the disparity in mortality rates between races was underestimated by 44 percent without the correction, according to the study.   

Specifically, the mortality rate for black women was 10.1 per 100,000, up from previous estimates of 5.7 per 100,000. For white women, the study found the mortality rate was 5.7 per 100,000, up from previous estimates of 3.2 per 100,000, according to the report. 

Researchers concluded the correction for hysterectomy "revealed that cervical cancer mortality rates are underestimated, particularly in black women. The highest rates are seen in the oldest black women, and public health efforts should focus on appropriate screening and adequate treatment in this population," according to the report.  

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