HealthDay News — An estimated eight million American women aged 21 to 65 years haven’t been screened for cervical cancer in the past five years, findings from a report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate.

Up to 93% of cervical cancers are preventable, said the agency in a Vital Signs report. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent infection with the HPV types that cause most cervical cancers.

The percentage was higher among women without health insurance (23.1%) and among those without a regular health-care provider (25.5%). Lack of screening was also higher among older women (12.6%), Asians/Pacific Islanders (19.7%), and American Indians/Alaskan Natives (16.5%).

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From 2007 to 2011, the cervical cancer rate nationwide fell by 1.9% a year and the death rate remained stable. Still, the southern United States had the highest rate of cervical cancer (8.5 cases per 100,000 women), the highest cervical cancer death rate (2.7 deaths per 100,000 women), and the highest rate of non-screening in the past five years (12.3%).

“Every visit to doctors and nurses is an opportunity to discuss cervical cancer prevention,” wrote the agency.

To increase cervical cancer screening rates, CDC recommends clinicians:

  • Help women understand what screening tests are best for them and when they should get screened.
  • Screen or refer all women as recommended at any visit.
  • Make sure patients get their screening results and the right follow-up care quickly.
  • Use reminder-recall systems to help doctors, nurses, and patients remember when screening and HPV vaccination are due.
  • Strongly recommend that preteens and teens get vaccinated against HPV.