Latest ‘Back on the Books’ survey suggests lack of knowledge may keep women from receiving lifesaving health care
ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 29, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new survey by the Prevent Cancer Foundation® reveals an alarming statistic: almost half (49%) of American women 40 and older report they have not had a breast cancer screening in more than two years. Of these women, 57% have never had a breast cancer screening or have not had a breast cancer screening in six or more years, and 22% cite a lack of symptoms as the reason for not having the screening. Women of average risk should begin breast cancer screenings at age 40 and continue to get screened annually.
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Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Latest "Back on the Books" Survey Results. (Graphic: Business Wire)
The survey also revealed that over half (56%) of women 21 years of age and older have not had a cervical cancer screening since March of 2020, with 18% citing a lack of symptoms as a reason they have not been screened. Women of average risk should begin cervical cancer screenings at age 21 and continue with Pap tests every three years through age 29. Women between ages 30-65 should get a Pap test alone every three years, an HPV test alone every five years, or an HPV and Pap test together (co-test) every five years.
"Screenings can identify cancer before symptoms appear," said Jody Hoyos, president and chief operating officer of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. "When cancer is detected early, it increases your chances of survival. You may also require less extensive treatment or have more treatment options. The five-year survival rate for many cancers is almost 90% when cancer is found in its early stages."
In September 2022, the Foundation commissioned Atomik Research to conduct an online survey of 2,006 women between the ages of 21 and 60 years old located throughout the United States. People surveyed include those who self-identify as cisgender women as well as transgender and non-binary individuals assigned female at birth.
Missed appointment findings
In a related survey conducted last year, the pandemic was the most-cited reason for missed cancer screenings. This year’s findings suggest other factors may be at play. For example, there is a lack of knowledge regarding when to have breast and cervical cancer screenings.
54% of women 21 and older do not know how often they should be screened for cervical cancer.
34% of women 40 and older do not know how often they should be screened for breast cancer. This number has increased since last year’s survey (26%).
The survey findings also show women are more likely to prioritize their health care once they understand the importance of early detection.
69% of women 21 and older indicate they are more likely to schedule their next recommended breast or cervical cancer screenings after being exposed to information regarding the importance of early detection.
Benefits of preventive screenings
Many women who are getting screenings report feeling positive about having them.
Nearly 3 in 5 women 21 and older (58%) say they feel relieved, reassured, empowered or accomplished after having their routine breast or cervical cancer screening appointment.
TV personality, celebrity chef, best-selling author and passionate wellness advocate, Gina P. Neely, agrees with this sentiment. Neely said, "I always feel empowered after my annual breast exam. Cancer screening equips me to take control of my health and gives me peace of mind."
Implementing routine screenings
Since a large number (71%) of women 21 and older consider breast or cervical cancer screenings to be part of their overall wellness routine, the survey investigated steps women might take to ensure they get their cancer screenings on the books.
55% of women indicate that associating reminders for screenings with other habits or important to-dos would make them more likely to remember to schedule their breast or cervical cancer screening.
More specifically, 23% of women say they would be more likely to remember to schedule their breast or cervical cancer screening if they associated reminders for screenings with spring cleaning.
More than 1 in 7 (15%) would remember if they associated screenings with their New Year’s resolution.
42% of women say they would be more likely to follow through with a breast or cervical cancer screening if they planned a reward for themselves after going to their appointments.
Women can leverage their own understanding of the importance of preventive health care activity to promote it to other women.
Two in five women (40%) 21 and older say they often remind their friends, family members and/or loved ones to get their routine breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Compared to white women (15%), Black (26%) and Hispanic (24%) women more often report they have scheduled a breast or cervical cancer screening because of a powerful story shared on social media.
"Early detection saves lives. It’s such a positive message," Hoyos said. "Everyone can play a part in encouraging people to get their screenings back on the books. It’s especially important to support the people in our lives who have not had a positive experience with the health care system and those who need a gentle reminder to take care of themselves along with everyone else."
Find more information about early detection and cancer screenings by visiting preventcancer.org/backonthebooks.
About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®
The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on saving lives across all populations through cancer prevention and early detection. Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated.
The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options. For more information, please visit www.preventcancer.org.
 The sample consists of participants who were assigned female at birth or trans-male (female-to-male) in addition to cisgender women. Participants in the study qualified if they self-identified as cisgender female (N=1,991), transgender (female-to-male; N=2) or non-binary (assigned female at birth; N=13).
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