Study Finds High Rates of Cervical Cancer in Lower-Income New York City Neighborhoods

A new study finds that the rate of cervical cancer among women living in New York City neighborhoods with the lowest socioeconomic indices is nearly two times higher than the rate among New Yorkers who live in the city’s neighborhoods with the highest socioeconomic indices.

Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.

The neighborhood disparities in cervical cancer are primarily driven by very high rates in New York neighborhoods with the lowest socioeconomic indices. “We found that a neighborhood at the 10th percentile of the socioeconomic distribution is predicted to have a cervical cancer incidence of 11.2 cases a year per 100,000 women, which is significantly higher than the national average of 7.0 cases a year per 100,000 women,” says the study’s lead author, Alexander Melamed, an assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The existence of the disparity among people living in such proximity highlights the need to implement neighborhood-level interventions to increase access to, and use of, preventive services, the paper’s authors write. “Cervical cancer is highly preventable with vaccination and regular screening,” Dr. Melamed says. “The HPV vaccine reduces the rate by 90 percent when administered by age 12 or 13, and regular screening can find pre-cancers before they can turn into invasive tumors.”

The full study, “Association Between Neighborhood Socioeconomic Inequality and Cervical Cancer Incidence Rates in New York City.” was published on the website of JAMA Oncology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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