An estimated 700 African American women still die of cervical cancer each year. The three main reasons are: later stage at diagnosis, less aggressive treatment, and more barriers to care once diagnosed.
Lack of knowledge about cervical cancer may be the largest barrier to screening and treatment of cervical cancer in African American women. One reason for lack of timely screening is confusion of the Pap smear with a pelvic exam, causing a person to think that they have already been screened, although they may have had this exam for a different reason.
Many women do not know that a Pap smear is a cervical-cancer screening and do not realize that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a known risk factor. They also may believe that if they are no longer sexually active, they no longer need to be screened which may contribute to presenting with cervical cancer in the later stage. Some women may fear a hysterectomy would be needed and did not desire to have this performed, so they avoided screening.
See “Black Women in America and Cervical Cancer Prevention” by Anisa Shomo (above), Director of Family Medicine Scholars at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio on the Atlanta Voice website (February 25, 2019)