Report: N.H. ‘good’ at preventing cervical cancer

New Hampshire was ranked first in the nation for cervical cancer screening, but does only moderately well for seeing to it that uninsured women are screened, according to a recently released report.

The report, “Partnering for Progress 2007: the ‘State’ of Cervical Cancer Prevention in American,” looks at states’ efforts to prevent cervical cancer. The report was issued by the Washington, D.C.-based Women in Government organization,

In the report, states were reviewed for nine screening indicators and were given between zero and two points, based on data drawn from a number of sources including the Centers for Disease Control, Medicaid and the Kaiser Foundation, a national health policy organization.

The researchers also looked at the percentage of uninsured women who are not routinely screened.

The Granite State was one of 16 states in the majority given an overall ranking of “good,” earning 10 out of a possible 18 points for its efforts to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.

While New Hampshire slipped to a total score of 56 percent in 2007, down from 62.5 percent in 2006, the state had a rate of 89.7 percent — the highest in the country — for performing Pap smears, a test that examines cells for abnormalities from the lower part of a woman’s uterus, called the cervix.

However, this rate is somewhat misleading, since data was collected from the same source as the previous year thus all states’ numbers for this rate remained constant in 2007 from 2006.

The state’s incidence rate of cancer grew slightly, to 7.4 women diagnosed per 100,000 in 2007, up from 6.7 per 100,000 in 2006.

New Hampshire’s cervical mortality rate remained unchanged at 2.3 per 100,000.

Fourteen percent of New Hampshire’s women were uninsured, unchanged from 2006. Nearly a quarter of the state’s uninsured women did not receive regular screens in 2007, the first year this indicator was examined.

New Hampshire “remains in the top tier in terms of cervical cancer screening but falls into the middle tier in terms of the percentage of uninsured women who are screened,” said the report’s authors.

The study did mention the advent of vaccines against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer, as a positive in the fight against the disease, and encouraged policymakers to address increasing access to cervical cancer screening and prevention, but did not include availability or other measures regarding HPV vaccines it in its research.

New Hampshire in late November became the first state in the country to offer Gardasil, a vaccine against HPV, free to girls aged 11 through 18 who have not become sexually active.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the vaccine for girls and women aged 6 through 26, and said it is effective against types of HPV that cause approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

The vaccine has attracted some controversy from critics who claim it may promote promiscuity.

For a full copy of the report, visit — CINDY KIBBE

Categories: News