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To Your Health: NLM Update Transcript

Reassessing cervical cancer: 03/20/2017

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Among women who have not received a hysterectomy, the rates of cervical cancer in the U.S. are significantly higher and more racially disparate than previously estimated, finds an insightful research article and an accompanying editorial recently published in the journal Cancer.

Specifically, the comprehensive study finds U.S. cervical cancer rates are 77 percent higher among black women and 47 percent higher among white women than previously estimated.

The study's three authors report the prior, estimated annual rate of cervical cancer deaths among black women after age 20 was 5.7 per 100,000 compared to 3.2 per 100,000 among white women. However, the authors explained these earlier findings included women who had a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure that removes a women's uterus.

When the authors excluded women who had a hysterectomy, annual cancer death rates among black women increased to more than 10 per 100,000 and rose to 4.7 per 100,000 for white women.

The study's authors note more than 12,000 American women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 women die from cancer of the cervix each year.

An editorial that accompanied the findings suggest senior African American women have the highest cervical cancer death rates at 37.2 deaths per 100,000. The editorial's two authors note this finding suggests a frequency or (and we quote): 'a rate that rivals the rates of undeveloped nations' (end of quote).

More positively, the editorial's authors note the overall findings suggest the mortality gap between white and black women is declining. They write (and we quote): "importantly, the mortality differences were eliminated in patients who were 20 to 29 and 35 to 39 years old' (end of quote).

The study's findings are based on the National Center for Health Statistics county mortality data from 2000-2012.

The editorial's authors conclude (and we quote): 'Racial disparities in cancer mortality in general and in cervical cancer specifically continue to be a vexing problem in the United States. Despite the significant disparity highlighted here, there are encouraging trends. The mortality gap between black and white women appears to be narrowing, especially among women in their 20s and 30s. This may be an early sign of the impact of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination. Access to adequate cervical cancer screening and preventive care remains critical to eliminating the racial disparity. HPV vaccination should continue to be emphasized among communities and health care providers' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute provides a helpful website titled 'what you need to know about cervical cancer' within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's cervical cancer health topic page.

The National Cancer Institute provides additional information about cervical cancer prevention within the 'prevention and risk factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's cervical cancer health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's cervical cancer health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available within the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about cervical cancer as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's cervical cancer health topic page, please type 'cervical cancer' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'cervical cancer (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov additionally has health topic pages devoted to: HPV and hysterectomy.

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It was nice to be with you! Please join us here next week and here's to your health!