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Cervical Cancer Mortality Rate Lowered Significantly with Regular Screening

By Kaiser Permanente

05/10/2023 at 03:38 PM

All women are at risk for developing gynecologic cancer. Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. But rates have decreased greatly in the past 20 years. That’s largely due to improved prevention, including vaccination and regular screening, but cervical cancer remains a problem. There are more than 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 4,000 deaths each year in the U.S.

Treatment is most effective when cancer is found early. Cervical cancer screening tests prevent the disease because they allow abnormal cells to be found and treated before they become cancerous. Education about how to help prevent, find and treat is key to improving women’s health outcomes. More than 50% of all new cervical cancers are in women who have never been screened or have not been screened in the previous 5 years of their lives.

"Two of the most important self-care activities a woman can treat herself to is cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination," says Jerrelyn Javier Inocencio-Diaz, MD, an OB-GYN at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center. "Cervical cancer screening offers the best chance to have cervical cancer found early when treatment can be most successful and HPV vaccination can prevent up to 90% of cervical cancer cases,” adds Dr. Inocencio-Diaz.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer. More than 80% of women who are sexually active will contract HPV at some point in their life. The HPV vaccination is the top preventative measure that a woman can take.

Cervical cancer screening can decrease cervical cancer deaths by 96.4%. Screening involves testing for HPV infection to detect pre-cancer and cancer, followed by treatment as appropriate. Testing is done among women who have no symptoms and may feel perfectly healthy. When screening detects an HPV infection or pre-cancerous lesions, these can easily be treated, and cancer can be avoided. Screening can also detect cancer at an early stage where treatment has a high potential for cure. Speak with your physician today about the recommendations for when and how to get screened.