According to a new study released in the journal Cancer, black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer at a rate seventy-seven percent higher than previously thought, with widening disparities in deaths between black women and white women. The widening racial gap found in cervical cancer deaths can be partially explained by an implicit racial bias of medical professionals who limit treatment options for black patients, and the lack of access and affordability to quality healthcare, a fact that raises concerns about what effect the repeal of ObamaCare might have on this statistic. “We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in an interview with The New York Times.  “Now I have even more concerns going forward, with the” — expected — “repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which covers screening, and the closing of family planning clinics, which do much of that screening.”

The study marks a turn from how cervical cancer mortality has been calculated in the past, excluding women who have had hysterectomies. “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,” said Anne F. Rositch, the lead author and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we want to look at how well our programs are doing, we have to look at the women we’re targeting.”

When it comes to our health, it is important that black women are as vigilant as possible in seeking preventative care. A simple Pap smear can detect cervical cancer in its early stages, or identify changes in the cervix before cancer develops. 

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