GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT – The number of women getting recommended cervical cancer screenings is declining, according to data from Cedar Gate Technologies’ proprietary National Healthcare Benchmark Database. An analysis of cervical cancer screening rates per 1,000 members between January 2020 and June 2022 shows that the number of women getting screenings has declined each year.
Excluding the months most severely impacted by COVID, monthly screenings per 1,000 commercially insured women were lower in almost every month of 2021. Analysis through June 2022 shows another decline in nearly every month compared to the prior year.
Cervical cancer screening rates dropped dramatically in February, March, and April of 2020 during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of screenings per 1,000 members bounced back within a few months and remained high through the end of 2020.
“Pap smears and HPV screenings are the most effective methods currently available to detect signs of cervical cancer,” said Ginger Pape, PharmD and Vice President of Product Management at Cedar Gate. “When we see a decline in these lifesaving screenings, it raises concerns that women and their providers will miss key indicators that could help discover cancer earlier, which leads to more treatment options.”
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) published a study showing a decline in cervical cancer screenings between 2005 and 2019, but the exact reasons are unclear. In the study, NCI surveys revealed that the number of women who were unaware they should get these screenings went up from 45% in 2005 to 55% in 2019. The number of women who said they did not get a recommendation from a healthcare professional to get these screenings also doubled, from 6% in 2005 to 12% in 2019.
“There could be multiple factors contributing to the changes in screening rates, including general lack of screening knowledge,” said Pape. “While our data cannot tell us the specific cause of the decline, it can help healthcare organizations identify these trends in their own population and create actionable plans to reach out to women who are overdue for a Pap smear or HPV screening.”
Nearly 14,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, and more than 4,300 women die annually as a result of this cancer. Regular screening with Pap smears and HPV screening can help doctors detect precancerous changes, leading to early diagnosis.
About Cedar Gate Technologies
Cedar Gate enables payers, providers, employers, and service administrators to excel at value-based care with a unified technology and services platform delivering analytics, population health, and payment technology on a single data management foundation. From primary care attribution to bundled payments to capitation, Cedar Gate is improving clinical, financial, and operational outcomes for every payment model in all lines of business.
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