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Cost a barrier to cervical cancer screening for many U.S. women, study says

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HealthDay News

Many women in the United States aren't screened for cervical cancer because they can't afford it, a new study finds.

Screening helps reduce cervical cancer cases and deaths, but disparities in screening rates exist based on income, insurance status, race and ethnicity.

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"Low-income women need greater access to insurance coverage options, Medicaid eligibility, or free screening programs so they can undergo regular cervical cancer screening without perceived financial barriers to care," said Dr. Susan Kornstein, editor of the Journal of Women's Health, which published the findings in its June issue.

Only about 64% of uninsured women, 78% of those with government insurance and 75% of low-income women have been screened in accordance with national guidelines, according to the study.

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Of women between 25 and 64 years of age who were not up to date on cervical cancer screening, 72% cited cost as a barrier.

The most commonly reported barriers were screening appointment costs (71%) and follow-up/future treatment costs (44%), a team led by Jennifer Smith of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported.

"Most notably, this study illustrates the importance of the availability and awareness of health insurance and other financial resources to reduce perceived financial barriers to screening," the study authors said in a news release.

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"Insurance status heavily influences the actual out-of-pocket costs incurred from the cervical cancer screening appointment and labs, which may influence perceived cost burden and barriers," the authors said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on cervical cancer screening.

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