#US Edition

Why Is Late-Stage Cervical Cancer Diagnoses In Older Women Alarming?

Women Cervical Cancer Diagnoses
Globally, cervical cancer is considered to be the fourth most common cancer among women. Over six lakh cases of cervical cancer diagnosis were reported in 2020 alone, and the number has only increased with time. For the undiagnosed, the state is much worse. While the WHO and several countries’ governments have brought out initiatives around awareness, screenings and vaccination against HPV, there’s still a large part of the world where women remain unaware. The state of diagnosis among older women in the United States is much worse, something that is proving to be fatal for them, as per a recent study.

The latest study by a US Cancer Center researchers showcases how a late-stage cervical cancer diagnosis in older women in the country is proving to be fatal for them.

Women cervical cancer diagnoses

A recent study by UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers indicates that a huge number of women above 65 years of age in that an alarming number of California women 65 only come to terms with their cervical cancer diagnosis at a very later stage in life, which turns out to be fatal for most of them.

The findings disclose how the situation is for most women in not just the US but several countries across the world as screening guidelines are failing women and causing a dire risk to their health.

The study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, disclosed how one in five new cervical cancer diagnoses from 2009-2018 was in women 65 or older.

Over 71 per cent of women showed late-stage disease than younger women who formed up to 48 per cent. Women above 80 years had the lowest survival rate among all age groups.

Suggested reading: Cervical cancer big killer worldwide: Indian rural women largely unaware

Utilise non-invasive testing approaches for older women

The study’s lead author statistician Julianne Cooley proclaimed that it’s about time the country started reanalysing the way we do not just hold screenings but also consider follow-up care and prognosis. “We must focus on determining past screening histories of older women and also take notice of the lapses in follow-up care. It’s time we utilise non-invasive testing approaches for older women in their 60s”

The researchers used a large set of population-based data from the Cancer Registry in California.

Lack of compliance with screening

It did not take one study to figure out that most younger women in the United States do not comply with cancer screenings, especially at a young age. Whether it is the lack of awareness or just a delay on their part, most of the diagnoses, therefore, come at a later stage which sometimes can be too late to either treat or form an analysis of.

While several disadvantaged women are less likely to avail of screenings because of lesser resources, it’s alarming to see how even educated women of privilege refrain from screening despite the obvious facts about the disease stated by WHO.

“Scheduled screenings may also decrease as women approach 65, increasing the likelihood that women have not been adequately screened before the upper age cutoff,” co-author and senior epidemiologist Frances Maguire.

Study reveals some factors that can lead to older women not receiving adequate screening

1. HPV testing: When we talk about older women not receiving HPV testing, it becomes vital to understand that this kind of testing only came to the limelight much after for the fair part of the last two decades. This kind of cervical cancer screening was not majorly and extensively available until 2003. The Centers for Disease Control, therefore, note that most cases of cervical cancer are HPV-related.

2. Less accuracy of Pap tests: Pap test screenings may not be as accurate as in post-menopausal stages among women compared to younger women.

3. Discomfort: A lot of women refrain from screenings and testing because of the discomfort that PAP smears cause. The exam’s intrusiveness is another reason women do not often opt for these tests.

While several disadvantaged women are less likely to avail of screenings because of lesser resources, it’s alarming to see how even educated women of privilege refrain from screening despite the obvious facts about the disease stated by WHO.

It, therefore, becomes a primary challenge for not just the US but several countries, developing or developed, to bring women across age groups to the forefront of cancer screening awareness programmes and make them understand the significance of early diagnosis and care, irrespective of the what the diagnosis brings forward.

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