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HEALTHIER YOU: Understanding the cervical cancer risk for Black women

May 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Health

BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES, OB/GYN

DR. ANNETTE MAYES

The month of May is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. I want to take a moment to talk about cervical cancer in Black women. It is reported that Black women are the second most likely demographic to develop cervical cancer. Also, Black women are more likely to die from this condition than white women.

Cervical cancer affects females, but due to various socioeconomic and healthcare factors, women may not get the healthcare they need. Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the number one cause of cervical cancer. People can pass the virus on through skin-to-skin contact, such as sexual intercourse, skin-to-genital contact, and oral sex.

While the mortality rates of cervical cancer have been declining for several years, Black women are still 80% more likely to die from this form of cancer than white women. Additionally, the overall 5-year survival rate is lower in Black women than white women. Around 56% of Black women will survive cervical cancer after 5 years compared with 68% of white women.

Historically marginalized groups, such as Black women, are less likely to receive adequate care and less likely to survive cancer than white people. In the United States, a person’s health insurance, or lack of health insurance, can limit their access to healthcare.

People who have cervical cancer that is more advanced may notice unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina, such as after sexual intercourse. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional if a person notices any unusual bleeding or discharge.

There are multiple risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing cervical cancer. While some are general risk factors that affect all women, some factors disproportionately affect Black women. Some factors include:

Having HIV or another immunosuppressive health condition

Smoking

Using birth control pills for 5 or more years

Having given birth to three or more children

Having several sexual partners

Exposure to high risk HPV subtypes.

Having HIV or another immunosuppressive health condition.

Routine Pap smear exams and consideration to taking the vaccine to prevent high risk HPV infection is our number one method of combating cervical cancer.

For more information, call Las Vegas All Women’s Care at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane #165 in Las Vegas.

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