Cervical Cancer Disproportionately Affects Black Women, According To New Study

Researchers call for an expansion of Medicaid to better allow prevention and treatment.

According to a new study, Black women are disproportionately killed by cervical cancer.

The Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice (SRBWI) and Human Rights Watch said in a January 20 report that in 2021, approximately 4,290 women in the United States died from cervical cancer. Black women were one and a half times more likely than white women to die from cervical cancer.

Olivia Coley, a community-based researcher and human rights commissioner for SRBWI, said in a statement, “Our interviews revealed the extent to which Black women have experienced the worst kind of neglect and abuse at the hands of some physicians who are less compassionate and fail to treat all patients equitably. Discrimination within the medical system has resulted in internalized trauma and decades of generational mistrust and fear.”

She also added, “Expanding Medicaid is not only critical in removing barriers to care. But it also will help replace the hyper partisan rhetoric around issues of healthcare access with a moral signal that the government is prepared to correct past wrongs by improving physical and psychological health for people who have been systemically left out.”

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The majority of cervical cancer cases result from the human papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, which is located in the lower part of a woman’s uterus. Most cervical cancer begins with the cells lining the cervix wall, which can progress from pre-cancerous cells into cancerous ones.

There are two major types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of women with cervical cancer are diagnosed with squamous cell carcinomas. Once diagnosed, the cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

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