Pap Smear Rates: Predictor of Cervical Cancer Mortality Disparity?


Considered preventable by the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer continues to be a severe health threat for women. Although efforts at early detection have resulted in a decline of 50% in incidence and mortality in the in the last 30 years, still more than 14,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than 4,8000 women die of cervical cancer annually. Significantly higher cervical cancer mortality rates in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, for African-American women prompted an investigation into the Pap smear rates for African-American and white women. The unexpected results of the analysis were that in all three years, African-American women had Pap smear rates higher than white women, 384.81 and 254.17 per 1,000 respectively. Obviously, the difference in pap smear rates does not explain the disparity in cervical cancer mortality in Tuscaloosa County. Further exploration of the causes is needed.

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