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Epidemiology News Briefs - February 21, 2017

Mathematical Correction Dramatically Increases Cervical Cancer Mortality Rates

A recent study found that a simple calculation error has led to a gross underestimation of cervical cancer mortality rates. The authors of the paper, published in Cancer, argue that prior studies failed to account for the prevalence of hysterectomy in the calculations of cervical cancer incidence. As lead author Anne Rositch, assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health told the New York Times, “We don’t include men in our calculation because they are not at risk for cervical cancer and by the same measure, we shouldn’t include women who don’t have a cervix.” After estimating the overall prevalence of hysterectomy among women in the U.S. to be 20%, this correction has a profound effect, increasing the mortality rate to 10.1 per 100,000 among black women and 4.7 per 100,000 among white women. These numbers were previously calculated at 5.7 and 3.2, respectively. In addition to increases in overall mortality rates, the study found that the disparity in death rates between white and black women is much greater than previously thought, with age-specific rates in black women increasing by as much as 125% following the correction, compared to an 83% increase in white women of the same age. Most concerning, the corrected mortality rates for black women living in the U.S. are as high as those seen in much of the developing world, including sub-Saharan Africa.

See the study in Cancer here:

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