(CNN)The risk of dying from cervical cancer might be much higher than experts previously thought, and women are encouraged to continue recommended cancer screenings.
Black women are dying from cervical cancer at a rate 77% higher than previously thought, and white women are dying at a rate 47% higher, according to a study published in the journal Cancer on Monday.
The study found that previous estimates of cervical cancer death rates didn’t account for women who had their cervixes removed in hysterectomy procedures, which eliminates the risk of developing the cancer.
Symptoms of cervical cancer tend to not appear until the cancer has advanced, which is why screening and HPV vaccinations are urged.
“We have a vaccine which can eliminate cervical cancer, like polio, that is currently available, and only 40% of girls age 13 to 17 have been vaccinated,” said Farley, co-author of the editorial. “This is an epic failure of our health care system in taking care of women in general and minorities specifically.”
Women over 65 might not need to continue screening if they don’t have a history of cervical cancer or negative Pap test results, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Each year, about 38,793 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where HPV is often found. The virus has been linked not only to cervical cancer but to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus or throat.
A study published in the journal JAMA Oncology last week found that among a group of 1,868 men in the United States, about 45% had genital HPV infections and only about 10% had been vaccinated.
“Male HPV vaccination may have a greater effect on HPV transmission and cancer prevention in men and women than previously estimated,” the researchers wrote in that study.