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Cervical cancer may be eliminated 14 years earlier in wealthier US communities

Cervical cancer may be virtually eliminated in the United States by 2030 in communities with low poverty rates, but not until 2044 in communities with high poverty rates, according to a new statistical model. The difference may result in nearly 22,000 extra cases of cervical cancer in high-poverty communities.

The model accounted for the risk of HPV transmission among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, the probability of HPV progressing to cervical cancer, the rates of cervical cancer screening, and the odds of effective cancer treatment.

Lead researcher Jennifer Spencer of the University of Texas at Austin doesn’t believe that this disparity is due to differences in vaccination rates, as the study showed similar vaccination rates in high-poverty and low-poverty areas.

Instead, the study confirmed known differences in cervical cancer screening rates between high- and low-poverty counties and additionally found that high-poverty counties have a higher prevalence of cancer-causing HPV types that aren’t covered by the vaccine—18.3 percent compared to 8.9 percent in low-poverty counties.

“Vaccination can do a lot of good, but it’s unlikely that the disparities can be addressed through just vaccination,” Spencer said.

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