MAR 30, 2020 5:59 AM PDT

Cervical cancer screening affected by natural disasters

It may not come as a surprise that public health is adversely affected by natural disasters and conflict. New research published in the journal PLOS ONE aims to quantify that by describing how screening for cervical cancer suffered declines in Japan in the years after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. The 2011 earthquake had a magnitude of 9.0 that devastated Miyagi Prefecture in eastern Japan. The devastation was compounded by a tsunami that followed the quake and impacted surrounding coastal areas.

Researchers from Tohoku University say that in the years following the natural disaster, cervical cancer screening rates dropped significantly, which is not an uncommon phenomenon. "Conflicts and disasters, and the social isolation that often follows, have a major impact on healthcare and lead to delays in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers," says Tohoku University's Yasuhiro Miki, who specializes in disaster obstetrics and gynecology.

Cervical cancer rates are higher in Japan than in the US, where approximately 15 women per 100,000 people are affected by cervical cancer compared to 6.5, respectively. Unfortunately, the vaccination rate for human papillomavirus (HPV) is also low in Japan, where less than 1% of girls are vaccinated. (The vaccine protects against cervical cancer.) This makes screening for cervical cancer that much more important in the country.

Nevertheless, the investigators observed a 3% drop in cervical cancer screenings in the five years following the earthquake. In one city hit hard by the disaster, screening rates dropped by 7%.

"Cervical cancer screening is essential for maintaining good health, but in many affected areas, the rates markedly decreased in the year following the earthquake," says Miki. "More problematically, the decline in cervical cancer screening rates did not even recover in some areas five years after the earthquake."

Furthermore, the researchers say that this case study in Japan speaks to the experiences of other regions of the world that have lived through disasters. "Long term monitoring of women's health is needed after a disaster," Miki says. "Measures need to be taken to restore screening rates in all affected areas."

Sources: PLOS ONE, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2020
Cancer
Breast cancer patients are 60% more likely to die of cancer after surviving a heart attack
JUL 13, 2020
Breast cancer patients are 60% more likely to die of cancer after surviving a heart attack
Unwelcome news from researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine suggests that breast cancer patients are 60% more lik ...
JUL 26, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Medicinal Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells
JUL 26, 2020
Medicinal Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells
Researchers at the University of Newcastle have found that a modified version of medicinal cannabis can kill and inhibit ...
AUG 12, 2020
Cancer
Comparing Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab in the Treatment of Lung Cancer
AUG 12, 2020
Comparing Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab in the Treatment of Lung Cancer
Since the 1940s, chemotherapy has been a primary treatment option for cancer. The late 20th century brought a new type o ...
AUG 21, 2020
Immunology
Cancer Feels the STING
AUG 21, 2020
Cancer Feels the STING
Researchers have discovered a protein that can amplify immune reactions against tumors. The stimulator of interferon gen ...
SEP 08, 2020
Cancer
The story of a very scary protein
SEP 08, 2020
The story of a very scary protein
New research from biochemists at the University of Alberta has identified a protein that triggers the growth of aggressi ...
SEP 22, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating the Mechanism Behind 5-Fluorouracil's Cardiotoxicity
SEP 22, 2020
Investigating the Mechanism Behind 5-Fluorouracil's Cardiotoxicity
Cancer therapies have come quite far, with several options available for many cancers. An issue that has plagued many of ...
Loading Comments...