Idaho Cervical Cancer Rates Lower Than Average
August 18, 2005
Idaho women are 22 percent less likely to contract cervical cancer than women elsewhere in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. But the state has the nation's second-lowest rate of screening for the disease; only neighboring Utah's rate is lower.
In 2004, Idaho legislation to tap federal money for Pap tests was killed in a state House committee, despite passing the Senate. Some social conservatives fought provisions of the bill that would have expanded family planning services to poor women over age 19 and eligible families whose children are in the state health insurance program.
Nonetheless, an interim bipartisan state legislative committee is attempting to increase Pap testing, which has cut cervical cancer death rates by more than 70 percent since its use became widespread in the early 1940s. In early August, the committee reached no decision on how to promote more Pap testing, agreeing only to reconvene in the fall.
Just 42 women in Idaho were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2003, and it killed 72 women in the state between 1999 and 2003. In parts of the world where Pap tests are unavailable, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to the Cancer Data Registry of Idaho.
Dr. Christine Hahn, the state epidemiologist, said she and others speculate that the strains of the STD human papillomavirus that are linked to cervical cancer may not be as prevalent in Idaho historically.
In Idaho, there were 801 breast cancer diagnoses in 2003, and state officials want to direct funds to the most pressing needs. But Rep. Bob Ring (R-Caldwell), a retired physician and the panel's co-chairperson, said, "We need greater public awareness that, 'Hey, we are sitting on a time bomb, and we need to start addressing it before we have a huge epidemic of cervical cancer.'"
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.