Cervical cancer death rates and the disparities between white and black women may be much higher than previously estimated.

Cervical cancer death rates and the disparities between white and black women may be much higher than previously estimated, according to new research published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers found that past studies mistakenly included women who had undergone a hysterectomy that would eliminate the chance of them having cervical cancer, making the numbers inaccurate.

Once researchers eliminated those participants from the study, the morbidity numbers increased significantly, especially for black women. The corrected mortality rate was 10.1 per 100,000 for black women, nearly double the previous rate that didn’t account for hysterectomies.

The corrected rate for white women was 4.7 per 100,000, just slightly higher than the previous amount of 3.5.

There are several reason why this could be happening such as differences in tumor biology as compared to other races. “In some cases, African-American women may have less access to screening,” says Peter Takacs, MD, Professor of EVMS Obstetrics and Gynecology.

He says regular screening by pap-smear and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing can help detect precancerous lesions and prevent cervical cancer. “Early recognition and intervention definitely reduce the chance of invasive cancer development.”   

While regular screening is effective, the HPV vaccine can also help prevent cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children 11 to 12 years old get the vaccine.