Too many women are dying from cervical cancer
An estimated 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society, and another 4,170 women died from cervical cancer last year. “These numbers should be much lower because we have a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and a screening test that can catch it before it has spread,” says Kathy MacLaughlin, MD, a family medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Routine Pap testing slashed the risk of dying from cervical cancer
Papanicolaou (Pap) smear tests, which involve swabbing a sample from the cervix to detect precancerous cells, can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops—or catch the cancer early when it’s easier to cure. Since Pap tests were introduced in the 1950s, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer declined dramatically: Cases and death rates declined by more than 60 percent between 1955 and 1992, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, these rates haven’t budged in the last 15 years, the American Cancer Society states.