Cervical Cancer Death Rates Have Dropped by More Than 50% Over the Past Four Decades, But Have Stabilized in Recent Years

ST. LOUIS – Jan. 20 – Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women but, mostly due to increased use of the Pap test, death rates have declined by more than 50% over the past four decades. However, the cervical cancer death rate hasn’t changed much over the past 15 years.

Those statistics are striking because cervical cancer is a highly preventable and treatable cancer. Screening offers the best chance to find cervical cancer early and can even prevent most cervical cancers by finding pre-cancers that can be treated before they turn into invasive cancer. Cervical cancer is one of only two cancers that can be prevented through screening.

“Cervical cancer screening tests are used to find cancer and pre-cancers in women who have no symptoms,” said Melissa Tepe, MD, MPH, CMO and OB/GYN at Affinia Healthcare. “Most women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. haven’t been screened within the last five years and that a large percentage have never been screened.  Pap screenings and services are available. We want to encourage women to access those services and build trusting relationships with their clinicians.”

The American Cancer Society recommends women follow these screening guidelines for cervical cancer:

• Women ages 21-29 should be screened for cervical cancer with a Pap test every 3 years.

• For women ages 30-65, the preferred way to screen is a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. Another option is a Pap test alone every 3 years.

• After age 65, women who have had regular cervical cancer screening in the previous 10 years, with normal results, should no longer be screened.

• Women of any age should NOT be screened every year by any screening method.

• Women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening guidelines for their age group.

Along with regular screening, the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine also helps protect against six HPV-related cancers, including cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer among women. 

The American Cancer Society is leading a nationwide public health campaign called Mission: HPV Cancer Free to increase HPV vaccination rates and help eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers. The goal is to have 80% of 13-year-old boys and girls in the U.S. fully vaccinated against HPV by June 2026. The CDC reports 42% of Missouri boys and girls ages 13-17 have completed the vaccine series. The two-shot HPV vaccine series is most effective when given to boys and girls at ages 11 or 12.

“We’ve made significant progress in the fight against cervical cancer,” said April Dzubic, Executive Director at the American Cancer Society. “Using the tools we have available – vaccines, screening, and treatment of precancers – we can eliminate HPV cancers and cervical cancer in future generations.”

In its newly-released annual publication Cancer Facts & Figures, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer and 4,290 women will die from the disease in the U.S. this year.

To learn more about cervical cancer, screening guidelines, and HPV vaccination, visit cancer.org or call 800-227-2345.

Uninsured or underinsured women can find out about accessing screening through the program at the 1800 listed here, or through one of the providers here:  https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/showmehealthywomen/

Ava’s 3rd annual zumbathon is being held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday at the MOCH Wellness Center in Ava.  Monies collected from the event will support cancer patients and venues for cervical cancer education.  Tickets will be also be available for those interested in participating in a raffle for a 50-inch LED Smart television.  The event is sponsored by GYNCA of Springfield, and Missouri Ozarks Community Health. 

About American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to cancer.org.