A new study looks at why women don’t get regular cervical cancer screenings.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and new data shows that cervical cancer screening rates among women are falling.
Although women are recommended to be screened for cervical cancer every 3 to 5 years depending on age, risk and the type of test performed, a study of the Open JAMA Network surveyed 20,557 women (aged 21-65) from socio-demographic groups eligible for cervical cancer screening and found that the proportion of women late for screening increased from 14.4% in 2005 to 23% in 2019.
The results also showed “substantial variation in cervical cancer screening rates” by ethnicity, with LGBQ+ women identifying women, women living in rural areas and uninsured women.
The study authors asked women about their reasons for not getting tested and found that the biggest barrier among the socio-demographic groups cited was “lack of knowledge” about the need for testing.
The authors recommended that “campaigns focusing on patient knowledge and practitioner communication can help improve cervical screening rates, and cultural adaptation of interventions is needed to reduce existing disparities.”
Dr. Maurie Markmanmedical oncologist and chair of medicine and science at Cancer Treatment Centers of Americacalled the results of the study a “catastrophe”, underlining the importance of getting tested regularly, as well as the importance for men and women of getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer in the cervix and in the head and throat.
“We have the potential to eliminate as much cancer as possible,” Markman said, referring to cervical cancer. He explained that cervical cancer, among others, is caused by persistent HPV infection, which is sexually transmitted.
It is recommended that people get the HPV vaccine when they are children. However, because it is a sexually transmitted disease, Markman said people weren’t as open to a conversation about how it affects women and men when the vaccine was first introduced. on the market.
“The mistake was to say that [getting the vaccine was meant] to prevent a sexually transmitted disease,” Markman explained. “What should have been done was to say that this is just a cancer vaccine.
While the vaccine was initially announced with a focus on young girls and preventing cervical cancer, Markman adds that vaccinating young boys can also protect them if they are ever exposed to HPV and reduce the risk of passing it on to someone else in the future.