Cervical cancer burden and opportunities for prevention in a safety-net healthcare system

Sandi Pruitt, Claudia L. Werner, Eric K. Borton, Joanne M. Sanders, Bijal A. Balasubramanian, Arti Barnes, Andrea C. Betts, Celette S Skinner, Jasmin A Tiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: The high prevalence of cervical cancer at safety-net health systems requires careful analysis to best inform prevention and quality improvement efforts. We characterized cervical cancer burden and identified opportunities for prevention in a U.S. safety-net system. Methods: We reviewed tumor registry and electronic health record (EHR) data of women with invasive cervical cancer with ages 18þ, diagnosed between 2010 and 2015, in a large, integrated urban safety-net. We developed an algorithm to: (i) classify whether women had been engaged in care (1 clinical encounter between 6 months and 5 years before cancer diagnosis); and (ii) identify missed opportunities (no screening, no follow-up, failure of a test to detect cancer, and treatment failure) and associated factors among engaged patients. Results: Of 419 women with cervical cancer, more than half (58%) were stage 2B or higher at diagnosis and 40% were uninsured. Most (69%) had no prior healthcare system contact; 47% were diagnosed elsewhere. Among 122 engaged in care prior to diagnosis, failure to screen was most common (63%), followed by lack of follow-up (21%), and failure of test to detect cancer (16%). Tumor stage, patient characteristics, and healthcare utilization differed across groups. Conclusions: Safety-net healthcare systems face a high cervical cancer burden, mainly from women with no prior contact with the system. To prevent or detect cancer early, community-based efforts should encourage uninsured women to use safety-nets for primary care and preventive services. Impact: Among engaged patients, strategies to increase screening and follow-up of abnormal screening tests could prevent over 80% of cervical cancer cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1406
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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