55KRC: Late-stage cervical cancers on the rise in U.S.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer found that metastatic, or advance stage, cervical cancer cases are increasing in the United States.

While Black women have an overall higher rate of advanced stage cervical cancer, the study found white women to have a higher annual increase in the disease. The study found this group also had nearly a two-fold higher rate of lack of guideline or missed screening and lower rates of vaccination.

Thomas Herzog, MD, deputy director of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UC College of Medicine, UC Health physician and president-elect of The GOG Foundation, Inc., was featured on 55KRC's Simply Medicine radio show and podcast to discuss the study.

"Frankly, for most cancers, we do not see an increase in stage IV in the United States because of better screening than the rest of the world," Herzog told Simply Medicine. "And unfortunately, here we are with a nearly completely preventable cancer, especially stage IV. This should be completely preventable in our country, and yet we see an increase. So this is very concerning."

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for over 90% of anal and cervical cancers. All women aged 21 or older are encouraged to receive regular HPV screening, known as a pap test, which can detect changes in cervical cells before they become cancer. The HPV vaccination can also protect against certain forms of HPV for sexually active adults prior to infection exposure.

Women who smoke are also more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as between your periods or after sex.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that’s watery or bloody.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Pain in the pelvis or low back.

While many of these symptoms may be related to other health issues, women are encouraged to talk with their health care provider for ways to access screening.

Listen to the Simply Medicine interview. (Note: Segment begins around 24:00 mark.)

Dr. Herzog and one of his patients also recently talked about the rise in cervical cancer cases with Local 12 News. Read or watch the Local 12 story.

Featured photo at top of cervical cancer metastasis courtesy of National Cancer Institute/Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Photo taken by Scott Wilkinson and Adam Marcus.

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