• By Heather Carlson Kehren

Women’s Wellness: Low rate in cervical cancer screenings

January 10, 2019

african-american female doctor nurse sharing information with an elderly woman in a hospital room during an appointmentThe percentage of women who are screened for cervical cancer may be far lower than national data suggests, according to a Mayo Clinic study recently published in the Journal of Women’s Health. Less than two-thirds of women ages 30 to 65 were up-to-date with cervical cancer screenings in 2016. The percentage is even lower for women ages 21 to 29, with just over half current on screenings. Those figures are well below the 81 percent screening compliance rate self-reported in the 2015 National Health Interview Survey.

“These cervical cancer rates are unacceptably low,” says Mayo Clinic family medicine specialist Dr. Kathy MacLaughlin, the study’s lead author. “Routine screening every three years with a Pap test or every five years with a Pap-HPV co-test ensures precancerous changes are caught early and may be followed more closely or treated.”

In addition to lower-than-expected screening rates, Mayo Clinic researchers also found racial inequities in terms of who is getting screened.

“African-American women were 50 percent less likely to be up-to-date on cervical cancer screening than white woman in 2016,” says Dr. MacLaughlin. “Asian women were nearly 30 percent less likely than white women to be current on screening. These racial disparities are especially concerning.”

Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed medical records using the Rochester Epidemiology Project database to determine cervical cancer screening rates for more than 47,000 women living in Olmsted County, Minn., from 2005 to 2016. An estimated 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society. Another 4,170 women died from cervical cancer last year. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Read the rest of the news release.

Media contact:
Heather Carlson Kehren, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, newsbureau@mayo.edu