ATLANTA — Latinas contract cervical cancer almost twice as often as other women, indicating that not enough of them are having Pap tests, federal officials said Wednesday.
The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that older women of all ethnic groups were more likely to show advanced cases of the disease when first diagnosed.
These women sometimes lack easy access to screening tests because of their age, low education, low income or lack of health insurance, the CDC's Dr. Sidibe Kassim said.
"We really need to reach those women," Kassim said.
For the study, the CDC analyzed 14,759 new invasive cervical cancer cases from 1992 to 1999. The disease was found at a rate of 16.9 per 100,000 Latinas 30 and older, compared with 8.9 per 100,000 non-Latinas.
Forty percent of the patients were diagnosed with advanced cases of the disease; among women 50 or older, the rate rose to 52%.
The government noted that the high rates came in the face of a 50% drop in cervical cancer cases among all American women in the last three decades. Better cervical cancer education, screening and treatment led to that decline, Kassim said.
The CDC estimates 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year and 4,100 women will die from the disease.
The Pap test identifies precancerous lesions and leads to early treatment. Screening programs for cervical cancer exist in each state, but some women may not realize they need to be tested, Kassim said.
The tests are recommended every three years for women who are sexually active. Cervical cancer is virtually always caused by the human papilloma virus, which is transmitted sexually.