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Deaths from cervical cancer are far too common

Misdiagnosis is a troubling problem in the medical field. Certain conditions are more frequently misdiagnosed than others. In addition, some groups of patients are more likely to be victimized by misdiagnosis than others. A recent study suggests that one area where the medical field is falling short is in the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Mortality rates and race

The estimated yearly death toll from cervical cancer is more than 4,000. The death rate, while inexplicably high, grows even more troubling when broken down along racial lines. White women suffer a mortality rate of 4.7 per 100,000. Black women suffer from a mortality rate of 10.1 per 100,000. Both rates are high, given advances in the medical field that make it possible to successfully treat the vast majority of victims. For that treatment to work, however, doctors and patients must adhere to screening guidelines and participate in follow-up care and monitoring. Screenings that indicate the potential presence of cervical cancer must be correctly interpreted and the necessary information must make its way to the client. If any step is missed, a cervical cancer patient could miss out on weeks, months or years where treatment could halt the spread of the disease. 

No excuse

Cervical cancer typically progresses slowly. It is also generally attended by numerous, early-warning stages. Unlike pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and other, faster-moving cancers, there is little reason for a woman who has been properly screened to die of this disease. Proper preventative care has the potential to cut the death rate of cervical cancer substantially. In the absence of proper care, thousands of women a year will continue to die from a treatable disease.

Source: The New York Times, "Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths," by Jan Hoffman, 23 January 2017 

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