Advanced stage cervical cancer on the rise

KOLO 8 News Now’s Terri Russell looks at the rise in late-stage cervical cancer.
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 4:00 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Cervical cancer was once one of the most common cancer deaths among women. But with the advent of the Pap Smear that all changed.

“It’s a big success story,” says Dr. James Alexander, OBGYN Chairman at UNRMED-Renown Health. “A fellow by the name of Papanicolaou back in the 30s discovered, if I can sample some cervical cancer cells, I can find cancer early before it is symptomatic, or even pre-cancer,” he says.

The Pap smear may be responsible for a decrease in more than 400,000 cervical cancers over a thirty-year period.

However, researchers at UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology report their data is showing an increase in advanced-stage cervical cancer among certain women. Advanced-stage cervical cancer has only about a 17% survival rate over a five-year period.

“As the cancer gets bigger its starts to invade other tissues,” as Dr. Alexander. “It starts getting into your blood system your lymph nodes. It’s just harder to treat, you have more cancer,” he says.

Perhaps even more alarming, the research also shows an increase in advanced cervical cancer in young women between 30 and 34. These women had the advantage of the HPV vaccine which when administered in their teens and 20s could prevent 90% of cervical cancers.

No one knows for certain why there’s an increase in late-stage cervical cancer. Medical care scarcity, cost, certain belief systems, or just a lack of knowledge about cervical cancer could all be contributing causes.

But UCLA says their research may only be the tip of the iceberg. That’s because their data only goes to 2018.

That was before the pandemic, when many people forestalled medical screenings.