Through adequate screening and follow-up, cervical cancer can be prevented or detected at early-stage (stage I), which is related to excellent survival. Current guidelines recommend discontinuing screening for women ≥65 years with history of normal Pap and/or HPV tests, potentially leaving this age group vulnerable. This study examined late-stage disease in a population-based cohort.
Using California Cancer Registry data, we identified 12,442 patients ages ≥21 years with a first primary cervical cancer diagnosed during 2009–2018. Proportions of late-stage disease (stages II–IV) and early- and late-stage 5-year relative survival are presented by the age group. Among patients ages ≥65 years, multivariable logistic regression estimated associations of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics with late-stage cervical cancer.
Nearly one fifth of patients (n = 2,171, 17.4%) were ≥65 years. More women ages ≥65 years (71%) presented with late-stage disease than younger women (48% in patients ages <65). Late-stage 5-year relative survival was lower for women ≥65 years (23.2%–36.8%) compared with patients <65 (41.5%–51.5%). Characteristics associated with late-stage cervical cancer in women ≥65 years included older age [odds ratio (OR), 1.02; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01–1.04; each year], non-adenocarcinoma histologic subtypes, and comorbidities (OR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.21–2.08).
There remains a significant burden of advanced cervical cancer in women ≥65.
Efforts should be made to better understand how the current screening paradigm is failing women of 65 years and older. Future work should focus on determining past screening history, lapses in follow-up care, and non-invasive testing approaches.