UPDATE: New study suggests cervical cancer rates higher than pre - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: New study suggests cervical cancer rates higher than previously thought

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Women may be at a higher risk for cervical cancer than previously thought, according to a new study that has some medical professionals rethinking the conventional wisdom on when women should be screened for the deadly disease.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine looked at a decade's worth of studies (2000-09) on cervical cancer rates and found a significant number of the study participants had hysterectomies, which skewed the data.

"I always in retrospect never really thought about it, but it makes a lot of sense that if you take out the cervix, the offending organ, wouldn't you think that there would be a shift in the population?", said Dr. Julie Schurr, M.D., an OB/GYN at Physicians For Women in Fitchburg.

Since women who have had hysterectomies can't get cervical cancer, the researchers at Maryland removed those participants from the past studies and found rates went up for women across the board. 

But the highest rates showed to be among women age 65-69.

That's a large change from current American Cancer Society guidelines, which puts the peak risk time between the ages of 40 and 44.  In fact, the ASC guidelines state women who have had regular screenings for cervical cancer, no longer need them after 65.
"I think there's a very common misconception that 'I'm free and clear from this type of problem and exam' that puts those women in particular at risk," said Dr. Schurr.

The new results could spark change in that thinking among both doctors and researchers.

"This study's an important one in that it may trigger in the future many studies that look into this issue in a proper statistical, or maybe proper scientific manner to shed some light on this specific issue,"  said Dr. Ahmed Al-Niaimi, M.D., who specializes in female reproductive cancers at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.

And while the doctors say women above the age of 65 shouldn't panic, they should have a conversation with their physicians about future screenings.

"You need to discern whether they have certain health issues or risk factors that would put them at increased risk for cervical cancer regardless of the guidelines," said Dr. Schurr.

The study also confirms previous data, which shows African-American women have a higher incident of cervical cancer than other women.

But the doctors say it is still unknown if that is due to genetics or lack of access to healthcare.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A new study from the University Of Maryland School of Medicine suggests rates of cervical cancer among black women and women aged 65-69 is much higher than previously thought.

Previous estimates put the rate of cervical cancer at 11.7 per 100,000 women, with the prevalence peaking between the ages of 40-44.  But most of those estimates included women who had hysterectomies, which removes the uterus and cervix, making it impossible for those women to get cervical cancer.

Researchers at Maryland recalculated the numbers, factoring in the fact that 20 percent of women had a hysterectomy, and found the rate of cervical cancer is actually 18.6 per 100,000 women.

The researchers also found the highest prevalence was among women aged 65-69, an age group that currently is not routinely screened for cervical cancer. 

The study, which is published in the journal Cancer, shows black women overall show a higher incidence of cervical cancer than white women.

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