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U.S. Cervical Cancer Rates are Underestimated, Study Reports

Update Date: May 12, 2014 10:03 AM EDT

According to a new study, more women are diagnosed with cervical cancer than the estimates reveal. The researchers reported that cervical cancer rates are much higher than estimated, particularly in older woman and in African Americans.

In this study, the researchers compiled their estimates after removing the data on women who had hysterectomies. The procedure removes the cervix, which means that the woman is no longer at risk of developing cervical cancer. Previous studies, which had always accounted for this particular group of women, estimated that the incidence rate was 12 per every 100,000 women. Women between the ages of 40 and 44 had the greatest risk of developing cervical cancer. Without including data on women with hysterectomies the researchers of the new study concluded that the incidence rate of cervical cancer was 18.6 cases per 100,000 women. Women older than 44 still had a high risk of getting the cancer.

When the team examined the cervical cancer rate for the age group of 65 to 69, they found that the rate was 84 percent higher than the rate reported in previous studies. The incidence rate was 27.4 for every 100,000 women from that age group. In terms of race, the researchers found that black women had higher rates of cervical cancer than white women across all age groups. For the age group of 65 to 69 specifically, the incidence rate was 53 cases per 100,000. The gap between the two races increased with age.

"Our corrected calculations show that women just past 65, when current guidelines state that screenings can stop for many women, have the highest rate of cervical cancer," study lead author Anne Rositch, an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said reported by HealthDay. "It will be important to consider these findings when reevaluating risk and screening guidelines for cervical cancer in older women and the appropriate age to stop screening."

The study, "Increased age and race-specific incidence of cervical cancer after correction for hysterectomy prevalence in the United States from 2000 to 2009," was published in the journal, Cancer.

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