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Will new cervical cancer screening guidelines widen the racial disparity gap even further?

New screening guidelines released by the American Cancer Society fail to preserve access to the most accurate and effective cervical cancer screening options and threatens to put lives at risk, according to the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

The new guidelines from the ACS recommend against continued routine use of the Pap test, instead suggesting that women ages 25-65 undergo primary HPV testing every five years. Additionally, the guidelines remove a recommendation to screen women under age 25 altogether. These changes represent a staggering departure from established current clinical practice and screening guidelines from other professional societies, says the Imperative.

The ACS guidelines admit that Black women have significantly higher rates of cervical cancer, yet by limiting screening options these guidelines will widen the racial disparity gap even further. Due to health care disparities, systemic racism, and inequality, Black women often have less access to health care, receive lower-quality care than white women, and have to make decisions to forgo or delay screenings due to concerns about cost and/or lack of health care coverage.

The current “one-size-fits-all” approach fails to consider the needs of each individual. This is why access to affordable and comprehensive screening is imperative in ensuring the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer in Black women.

See “ACS Guidelines Will Jeopardize Lives and Severely Limit Disease Detection” on the Black Women’s Health Imperative website (August 18, 2020)

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