A recent study revealed that cervical cancer fatality rates are higher than previously reported, emphasizing the importance of the recommended annual cancer screening administered during annual well woman exams.

The study notes that a shocking percentage of black women — 77% — have a higher fatality rate than previously reported. White women have a 47% higher fatality rate than the medical community once thought as well. These numbers are dramatic and highlight a serious need for better cervical cancer prevention and education for women of all ages and races.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 12,800 new cervical cancer cases in 2017, and more than 4,200 of those cases will be fatal. The Pap test, a key procedure conducted during an annual well woman exam, has been credited with the general decline in cervical cancer fatalities in the past four decades, but as the recent study uncovers, as important as the Pap test is, it may not be enough.

What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer occurs when cells located in the cervix develop into pre-cancerous, then cancerous cells. Pap tests are essential in detecting this type of change, as pre-cancerous cells can be detected and removed before they turn cancerous, or cancerous cells can be caught early and treated.

Schedule an annual well woman exam with PGOMG!

Can cervical cancer be prevented?
Not all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented, but there are things you can do to help lower your risk for developing the disease.

  • Know your risk factor – Tobacco use, STDs such as chlamydia and HPV, obesity, family history or personal history of the disease will contribute to a higher risk for cervical cancer.
  • Consider getting the HPV vaccine Gardasil – the human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually-transmitted infection that is directly linked to cervical cancer. Gardasil safely and effectively protects against HPV and thus helps prevent cervical cancer.
  • Attend annual exams with your gynecologist – It may be tempting to skip or delay an annual well woman exam, but they are an excellent opportunity to check in with your provider and screen for any changes to your gynecological and breast health.

Cervical cancer remains a very serious health issue for a larger number of women than the medical community previously thought. Although tremendous strides have been made over the last 40 years, there is still much that can be done to educate women on cervical cancer prevention.