Decline in cervical cancer death rate ends

The number of deaths caused by cervical cancer remained stubbornly stable from 2007 to 2011. Millions of women do not use simple screening procedures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 8 million women between 21 and 65 in 2012 hadn’t had a Pap smear in five years, and only 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys get the three-dose HPV vaccine for children ages 11–12. Current guidelines say that women over 21 should get a Pap smear every three years. More than 12,000 American women get cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 die from the disease. “Up to 93% of cervical cancers are preventable,” the CDC says in its report, “Vital Signs” (

The percentage of women screened decreased slightly from 2008 and 2010, and the percentage of women not being screened is higher for those without a health care provider and insurance, but that’s not the total problem.

“About 7 in 10 women who have not been screened in the last five years have a regular doctor and had health insurance,” according to the report. About 50% of all new cervical cancers are found in women who have not been screened in the previous five years.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  • Ensures that most health plans cover cervical cancer screening at no cost to the patient
  • Ensures that most health plans cover HPV vaccination at no cost to patients who are in recommended age groups

Death rate today is 40% of rate in 1975

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2014

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