Persistent disparities of cervical cancer among American Indians/Alaska natives: Are we maximizing prevention tools?

A. S. Bruegl, J. Emerson, K. Tirumala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Cervical cancer incidence and mortality disparities experienced by American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women have persisted for decades. Pap smear screening and HPV vaccination are powerful tools to prevent cervical cancer. We evaluated the utilization of these tools among AI/ANs living in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Methods: The Indian Health Service (IHS) National Data Warehouse's Epi Data Mart was analyzed using all healthcare visits from 2010 to 2020 from IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian clinics in the PNW. Women ages 21–64 were included and considered up-to-date on pap smears if they had either cytology within 3 years or cytology with HPV testing within 5 years of the most recent clinical encounter. HPV vaccination rates for both sexes were calculated for individuals ages 9–26. HPV vaccination was considered complete if: two vaccines were received prior to age 15 or after three vaccinations if initiated after age 15. Findings: Cervical cancer screening rates are below the national average of 73.5% ranging between 57.1% - 65.0%. Sub-analysis of age groups shows substantially lower rates of up-to-date pap smear screening in the 50–64 age group. HPV vaccination rates have increased over time for both sexes across all age groups. However, the current vaccination rate of 58.6% is well below the Healthy People 2030 goal of 84.3%. Interpretation: Cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination are the cornerstones of cervical cancer prevention and early detection. These tools are underutilized and public health efforts can be strengthened to improve cervical cancer disparities in AI/AN women. Funding: Author ASB: Funding for this project has been provided through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Harold Amos Minority Faculty Development Grant and the National Cancer Institute K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic oncology
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • American Indians or Alaska Natives
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • HPV
  • Health disparities
  • Papanicolaou test
  • Pappilomavirus vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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