U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Cervical Cancer Mortality

Regular cervical cancer screening can decrease the likelihood of death due to cervical cancer by detecting and treating precancerous lesions and invasive cancer before it has spread. Research suggests that high rates of cervical cancer mortality may be indicative of reduced access to health care, a lack of culturally competent communication, and a deficiency in patient/provider education.1 In 2003–2005, women in the U.S. border region had a greater mortality rate due to cervical cancer than the overall U.S. female population (2.7 versus 2.4 deaths per 100,000 women, respectively).

Cervical cancer mortality rates vary by age. Younger women in the U.S. border region had higher mortality rates than the population as a whole; however, older women in the general population had higher mortality rates than those in the U.S. border region. For instance, among women aged 35–44 years, 3.3 deaths per 100,000 women in the border region were due to cervical cancer, compared to 2.8 deaths per 100,000 women in the United States. However, among women aged 75 years and older, cervical cancer was the cause of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 women in the U.S. border region, compared to 7.0 deaths per 100,000 women in the United States.

One objective in Healthy Border 2010 was to reduce the cervical cancer death rate by 30 percent, from 3.7 deaths per 100,000 women in 2000 to 2.6 per 100,000 by 2010. Significant progress has been made in achieving that goal with a cervical cancer mortality rate of 2.7 per 100,000 women in 2003–2005.2

Cervical cancer screening is recommended at least every 3 years beginning within 3 years of sexual activity or by age 21. A vaccine for genital human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and is recommended for female adolescents and women aged 9–26 years.3

1 Freeman HP, Wingrove BK. Excess Cervical Cancer Mortality: A Marker for Low Access to Health Care in Poor Communities. Rockville, MD: National Cancer Institute, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, May 2005. NIH Pub. No. 05–5282.
2 United States-Mexico Border Health Commission. Healthy Border 2010 Midterm Review – U.S. Border Area, February 2009.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV and HPV Vaccine – Information for Healthcare Providers. Aug 2006. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/default.htm, accessed 03/03/09.

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