Cervical Cancer Outcomes Worse Where Clinics CloseHealth
Nearly 100 women’s health clinics in the United States closed between 2010 and 2013, researchers said — often due to the passage of more restrictive laws or the loss of Title X government funding.
In all, 37 states nationwide saw a decrease in the number of women’s health clinics during this time.
“As these clinics closed over time, it appears that fewer women were getting screened [for cervical cancer], and this trend appears to be associated with a greater number of women ultimately dying from cervical cancer,” said lead author Dr. Amar Srivastava. He’s a resident physician in radiation oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
According to the American Cancer Society, each year more than 13,000 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States, and an estimated 4,250 women die from the disease.
In the new study, Srivastava’s team analyzed 2008-2015 data from an ongoing federal health study. The investigators found that states where clinics closed had a 2% drop in cervical cancer screenings compared to states without clinic closures.
The largest declines in screenings occurred among women without insurance, Hispanic women, women aged 21 to 34 and unmarried women, the researchers reported Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).
At the same time, there was a significant rise in the risk of cervical cancer deaths for women living in states where clinics had closed, especially among urban women. In contrast, cervical cancer survival rates actually rose in states that hadn’t seen clinics shut down.
Clinic closures also seemed to affect the timing of cervical cancer diagnosis for women living in affected states. Diagnoses of cervical cancer in its early stage, when it is most curable, fell by 13% among women aged 18 to 34 in states where clinics closed, compared to women living in states with no clinic closures. Late-stage diagnoses of the disease were 8% higher in states with clinic closures than those with no clinic closures, Srivastava’s team found.
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