Stage 4 cervical cancer cases are on the rise, researchers find : NPR

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Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California at Los Angeles found an increase in stage 4 cervical cancer cases. They suspect that young women do not undergo routine medical checkups because they appear otherwise healthy.

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Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Hologic


Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California at Los Angeles found an increase in stage 4 cervical cancer cases. They suspect that young women do not undergo routine medical checkups because they appear otherwise healthy.

Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Hologic

A new study finds late-stage cervical cancer cases are on the rise in the US, and some researchers hypothesize that a decline in screenings among young women could be the reason more women are being diagnosed with the deadly disease.

While the overall rate of cervical cancer in the US is declining, the number of women suffering from advanced stages of the disease – with a five-year survival rate of 17% – is increasing.

Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, set out to examine the trends in stage 4 cervical cancer in the country by analyzing data from 2001 to 2018. International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, they found a 1.3% increase per year in advanced stages of the disease, with the largest increase in Southern white women ages 40 to 44, whose cases increased 4.5% annually.

Researchers also found that black women have an overall higher rate of late-stage cervical cancer, at 1.55 per 100,000, compared to 0.92 per 100,000 in white women.

dr. Alex Francoeur, a fourth-year OB-GYN resident at UCLA, said the team’s recent study stemmed from a study published last year, which found a 3.39% annual increase in advanced cases in women ages 30 to 34. .

“This is a disease from which only 17% of patients will live in the past five years,” Francoeur said. “So, if you’re a 30-year-old who doesn’t make it to his 35th birthday, that’s tragic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women get Pap tests by age 21 and have a follow-up every three years, depending on their health history. The test screens for precancers, which can be surgically removed if detected. Cervical cancer that is detected early enough can have a five-year survival rate of over 90%.

Women should also get routine human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, according to National Cancer Institute guidelines. The virus has been associated with over 90% of all anal and cervical cancers, as well as a high percentage of other cancers.

Francoeur said she suspects many women are delaying routine testing because they don’t have any glaring health problems. But HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to the CDC, so common that most sexually active people will contract the virus at some point in their lives.

Another concern is that the most recent figures are from 2018, Francoeur said, excluding the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted routine health care for many.

“I’m concerned that people have had a lot of barriers to access health care in the past two years,” she said. “I think we might see this trend get a little bit worse before it gets better.”

Francoeur recommended that “even if you’re in your late twenties or early thirties and you don’t have any medical problems, you need a primary care doctor, because routine health checks save lives.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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