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Women seeking help with food, shelter and unexpected expenses are often overdue for cervical cancer screening

More than half of cervical cancer cases in the United States occur in women who have not had timely Pap smears and/or HPV tests.

Women with low incomes sometimes skip Pap smears and other cancer prevention screenings because they are focused on more pressing needs such as housing, food and other necessary expenses. So, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis evaluated efforts to help such women obtain cervical cancer screenings.

Of 932 callers to a United Way helpline who were seeking help with basic needs like food and shelter, 23 percent were referred for overdue cervical cancer sceenings. However, less than 20 percent of the women scheduled a screening.

These women “are likely to have health needs that greatly exceed those of the general population, in addition to lacking financial resources and social support required to seek cervical cancer screening,” says Matthew Kreuter of Washington University in St. Louis.

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