Too many women are dying from cervical cancer
An estimated 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society, and 4,170 women died from it. “These numbers should be much lower because we have a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and a screening test that can catch it before it has spread,” says Kathy MacLaughlin, MD, a family medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Routine Pap testing every three years saves lives
Papanicolaou (Pap) smear tests, which involve swabbing a sample from the cervix to detect precancerous cells, can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops—or catch the cancer early when it’s easier to cure. Since Pap tests were introduced in the 1950s, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer declined dramatically: Cases and death rates declined by more than 60 percent since the 1960s, according to the National Cancer Institute. Unfortunately, the decline has tapered off over the last 15 years.