Cervical Cancer Statistics to Share With Your Patients
It’s hard to talk about cervical cancer in a lighthearted tone. Or, perhaps it’s more challenging to hear about cervical cancer in a lighthearted manner. There’s a good chance you’ve lost at least one family member to it. Fifty years ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of death among American women. Since then, we’ve come a long way. Far fewer women are dying from cervical cancer today. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website says it’s mostly because more women are getting regular pap smears. But we’ve also made significant advances in treatment and resolution. Here are a few cervical cancer statistics to share with your patients this year.
The Fight Continues
Our fight against cervical cancer is not over. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, more than 13,000 new cases will be diagnosed, and nearly 4,300 women will likely die from it. All the more reason to have a heartfelt talk with your female patients this year about the value of pelvic exams, pap smears/HPV testing. She may be more receptive than usual this year. In the throes of a pandemic, everyone focuses on health.
Even though our collective mindset is hyper-focused on health, your patient might still be reluctant to put her feet in the stirrups. She might dodge the appointment at the last minute — as they so often do — or cite social distancing concerns. So to help you have a convincing conversation with your patient, we’ve decided to take a closer look at cervical cancer statistics in the US today (and tout a few statistics from our Harris Poll survey, too.)
We live in a fantastic era. If you’re struggling to start a conversation about cervical cancer with your patient or a family member, begin by reminding them how lucky we are to live in such a time. A few centuries ago, women were dying painfully of cervical cancer without so much as a name for their disease, much less a treatment.
The Concept of Cancer & Oncology
Autopsies were taboo before the Renaissance — a period of enhanced art and scientific exploration that occurred mostly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. During those years, scientists like Galileo and Newton developed the scientific method, which later was used to study disease. Per Cancer.org, autopsies performed in the 1600s gave us the first inkling of an understanding of the human circulatory and respiratory systems.
- Then, in 1761, Giovanni Morgagni was the first to do something we consider routine today — he performed autopsies to relate a patient’s illness to pathological findings after death.
- His work was the foundation for oncology — the study of cancer — which has branched into many specific studies and fields, including a particular branch of gynecologic oncology today.
- Centuries later, the development of anesthesia allowed surgery to flourish.
- The first mastectomy was performed in 1882 by William Halstead. Not even 150 years ago!
Throughout human history, how many women have died of cervical cancer? It’s impossible to say. Maybe millions. The point we’re making is that untold women have died from a disease that we are lucky enough today to prevent, predict, identify, treat, and remove successfully. And that’s the point you need to share with your patients.
Now, let’s get down to some concrete cervical cancer statistics with which your patient can relate.
US Cervical Cancer Statistics in 2020
On Age at Time of Diagnosis
Per Cancer.org, cervical cancer is most frequently diagnosed in women age 35 – 44.
- The overall average age for a cervical cancer diagnosis is 50.
- It’s much rarer in younger women in the US. Very few cases are diagnosed among patients under 20.
- Most mature women don’t know the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age.
- That risk is real, however. Women over 65 make up at least 20% of cervical cancer cases.
Therefore, you should be talking about pelvic exams to all your female patients aged 17 to 75.
On Cervical Cancer and Ethnicity
The team at obp always strives for a culture of equality and inclusivity. We are blessed that the US is truly a cultural melting pot. Again, we are lucky to compare cervical cancer statistics in terms of ethnicity or racial background and make meaningful observations.
Sensitivity aside, your female patients should know that in the US:
- Hispanic women are most likely to get cervical cancer.
- African-Americans are the next most likely group.
- Native Americans and Alaskan natives are the next highest risk group.
- Caucasians follow them.
- And finally, Pacific Islanders and Asians have the lowest risk of cervical cancer in this country.
Now that we’ve completed a look at cervical cancer statistics as they relate to both age and ethnicity, it’s time to talk about pelvic exams in terms of psychology and emotions.
93% of Women Dread Pelvic Exams
We’ve discussed the psychological anxiety associated with pelvic exams elsewhere in our blogs. For now, know that most American women experience this phenomenon. We’ve also funded a Harris Poll that surveyed women’s reactions to — and thoughts about — pelvic exams. We’ve learned that:
- 85% of women would prefer a pelvic exam using a single-use speculum.
- 82% of them would ask a provider to use a more comfortable speculum if one was available.
- 62% of women would find their exams more comfortable if speculums were silent.
- 78% of women surveyed would prefer a speculum that wasn’t made of cold metal.
And while the statistics of 2020 are yet to be written, we can imagine that our current focus on hygiene is at the top of every woman’s mind when it comes to her pelvic exam.
Show Your Patients a Better Speculum
The HER-SPEC Single-Use Click-Free Vaginal Speculum with Integrated LED Light Source solves many of your patients’ concerns about the pelvic exam experience. It’s self-lit, acrylic, and silent. A thoughtful bedside conversation and a demonstration of HER-SPEC might ease her anxiety and encourage her to attend an exam.
At obp, we are committed to delivering single-use, self-contained, illuminating medical devices that can transform healthcare and save women’s lives. Our goal to cultivate a highly-collaborative and forward-thinking environment that nurtures and uncovers innovation where it is least expected but most needed. Contact us today to learn more about HER-SPEC or to request a sample.