CDC: Cervical cancer rates higher among Latinos and women over 40

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 07 2002 1:00 AM ET

Latino women contract cervical cancer almost twice as often as other women, indicating that not enough of them are having Pap tests and screenings for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. The study, titled "Invasive Cervical Cancer Among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Women," also found that older women of all ethnic groups were more likely to show advanced cases of the disease when first diagnosed. These women sometimes lack easy access to screening tests because of their age, low education, low income, and lack of health insurance, said Sidibe Kassim of the CDC.

The study analyzed 14,759 new invasive cervical cancer cases reported between 1992 and 1999. The disease was found at a rate of 16.9 per 100,000 Hispanic women ages 30 and older, compared with 8.9 per 100,000 non-Hispanic women of the same age range. About 40% of all the cases at diagnosis were advanced cases of the disease, but that percentage rose to 52% among women ages 50 and up.

The CDC estimates that 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year, and about 4,100 women will die from the disease. The Pap test and screening for HPV, which causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer, can identify precancerous conditions and lead to early treatment. Screening programs for cervical cancer exist in each state, but some women may not realize they need to be tested, Kassim said. The tests are recommended every three years for women who are sexually active.