Women in jail are at increased risk of cervical cancer
Research Activities, July 2012, No. 383
Women in jail or who are under community supervision (such as parole or probation) by the criminal justice system have an increased frequency of abnormal Pap tests and other risk factors for cervical cancer, according to a new study. The researchers used data from cross-sectional self-administered surveys of women in five local jails in a midsized southeastern city and women in community corrections programs in another southern State. More than two-fifths of the 380 women surveyed (43 percent) reported that they had at least one abnormal Pap test during their life. The women also had a high prevalence of other cervical cancer risk factors. Women who used barrier protection inconsistently during sex were twice as likely to have had an abnormal Pap test than those who used such protections consistently. Women with a history of gynecologic infections were 68 percent more likely and those with a history of sexually transmitted diseases were 92 percent more likely to have had an abnormal Pap test.
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that women in criminal justice settings might benefit from improved cervical cancer screening, prevention with vaccination against human papillomavirus (a known cause of cervical cancer), and risk-reduction education. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS19464).
More details are in "Risk factors for cervical cancer in criminal justice settings," by Ingrid A. Binswanger, M.D., M.P.H., Shane Mueller, M.S.W., C. Brendan Clark, Ph.D., and others in the December 2011 Journal of Women's Health 20(12), pp. 1839-1845.