Background: Cervical cancer prevention programs are being reconfigured to incorporate human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and vaccination. To define priority areas for prevention efforts, we examined the geographic distribution of cervical cancer screening, incidence, stage, and mortality in the United States, prior to the introduction of HPV-based prevention technologies.
Methods: County-level cervical cancer incidence data from 37 central registries were obtained from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. A spatial-temporal model that accounted for demographic and behavioral attributes was used to generate a complete view of county-level incidence from 1995 to 2004, including counties with missing data. Distribution of stage at diagnosis was examined by registry. Counties with high mortality and infrequent screening were identified using vital statistics and newly available county-level screening estimates.
Results: Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Asian and Pacific Islanders, incidence rates were higher among non-Hispanic black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Hispanic women. Counties with infrequent screening often experienced elevated incidence and mortality rates and were located in states with suboptimal stage at diagnosis profiles. Affected areas included Appalachia, the southeastern Atlantic states, and the lower Mississippi Valley. Elevated death rates were experienced in central counties of large metropolitan areas.
Conclusions: Geographic and racial/ethnic variability were evident in cervical cancer incidence and mortality. Women living in areas with endemic poverty would benefit from access to HPV-based prevention technologies.
Impact: These findings provide a baseline for monitoring progress in cervical cancer control in the era of HPV-based prevention.