Of all age groups, women aged 80 and older had the lowest survival rates.
Study co-author and University of California (UC) professor Theresa Keegan said, “Our study found a worsening in relative five-year survival from cervical cancer with each increasing age category for both early- and late-stage diagnoses .”
The team from the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center felt that this showed how important early detection of cervical cancer was for women over 65, although this is not the current system in the US.
Similarly, in the UK, the NHS is only inviting women and people with a cervix to be screened – a swab – who are between the ages of 25 and 64.
The study’s lead author and UC Davis chief statistician, Julianne Cooley, said, “Our findings underscore the need to better understand why current screening guidelines may be failing women aged 65 and older.
“We need to focus on identifying the screening history of older women as well as gaps in follow-up.
“We need to adopt non-invasive testing approaches for women approaching age 65 or those who need to catch up on their cervical cancer screening.”
Her colleague Frances Maguire, a senior epidemiologist at UC Davis, added: “Scheduled screenings can also decrease as women approach 65, increasing the likelihood that women before the upper age limit were not adequately screened.”
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As part of the research, the team used a large set of population-based data from the California Cancer Registry.
This federally mandated cancer surveillance system has been collecting cancer incidence and demographic, diagnostic, and treatment information from patients since 1988.
The data was used to identify all women aged 21 years and older who were diagnosed with a first primary cervical cancer from 2009 to 2018, the last 10 years in which complete data were available.
It comes as previous studies have shown that 23.2 percent of women in the US over the age of 18 are not up to date on recommended cervical cancer screening.
This year it was reported that 30 per cent of eligible people (or 4.6 million) in England had either never been screened for cervical cancer or their screening was not up to date.
Cervical cancer is the 14th most common form of the disease in people with a cervix in the UK, accounting for more than 3,200 cases each year.
Symptoms can be confused with the effects of periods, endometriosis, and fibroids and include:
- Vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your periods or after menopause, or periods that are heavier than usual
- Changes in your vaginal discharge
- pain during sex
- Pain in the lower back, between the hip bones (pelvis), or in the lower abdomen.
If you are concerned that you may have cervical cancer, contact your GP.