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Medical Study Reveals IE's Black, Latin Women Highest At-Risk for Cervical Cancer

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By BVN Staff –

Researchers in City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE) recently launched an initiative to increase awareness about routine screening for cervical cancer in Southern California’s Inland Empire region.

According to medical studies, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among women and can easily be prevented through early detection.

“Unfortunately, too few women are getting regular screenings, so it remains one of the deadliest cancers to women worldwide,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., founding director of CCARE. CCARE researchers found that women from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) ranked the highest sufferers of cervical cancer in the state.

This astonishing discovery led to the launch of a national campaign to raise awareness about this devastating disease including public service announcements on local radio stations and other media through their ‘End Fear, End Stigma, End Cervical Cancer’ initiative funded by City of Hope Excellence Award.

Despite being easily prevented, cervical cancer (CCA) remains as one of the deadliest illnesses among women, worldwide. It is estimated that 1,495 women will be diagnosed with CCA and 430 women will die of CCA in California by the end of 2011. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 860 new cases of cervical cancer and 150 deaths in the Inland Empire (IE) this year. Also African- and Latina-Americans have higher rates and poorer survival.

The PAP test serves as the single most effective medical test to prevent cervical cancer. The PAP test can find abnormal cells that will become cancer. These abnormal cells can be easily treated and cervical cancer can be totally prevented and avoided.

CCARE partnered with two leading Inland Empire health advocacy organizations, The Healthy Heritage Movement and the Southern California Witness Project to recruit African American and Hispanic women to participant in a women’s health awareness survey. The community organizations were successful in completing 211 surveys representing 86 African American women and 125 Latinas.

“While we are honoring Breast Cancer Awareness month I want to encourage women to take the time this month to get a complete annual women’s examine which includes both Pap test and a clinical breast examine,” said Phyllis Clark, C.E.O. of Healthy Heritage Movement.

CCARE’s surveys in the Inland region found that one in three African-American women and one in four Latinas have not had a Pap test in the past 2-3 years. And 45 percent of African-American women and 34 percent of Latinas reported that their health-care provider failed to recommend a Pap test as part of their health screening in the previous three years.

In terms of barriers to getting a PAP test; for Latina about 50 percent did not know where to obtain more information about or where to go to get the PAP test. “For both African-Americans and Latinas, peer support and increased education by their health-care providers may play important roles in increasing regular use of the Pap test, which may save lives,” said Dr. Ashing-Giwa.

The Pap test is the most effective medical test to prevent cervical cancer, explained Dr. Ashing- Giwa, noting that it can detect abnormal precancerous cells sampled through a painless swab.

National guidelines recommend that women start undergoing routine Pap tests every two years starting at age 21. Women age 30 and older can wait three years between screenings if they have had three consecutive clear Pap tests, or they had a negative Pap test and negative test for human papillomavirus, the virus that causes most cervical cancers.

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