The ensuing paper looks at cervical cancer in the state of Wisconsin. Cancer of the female sexual reproductive organs is a serious problem in the United States, and Wisconsin has not been spared the grim scourge. The pages below will reveal some striking trends. First of all, it shows that Wisconsin, while it may make up a small or modest proportion of all cancer-related deaths in the union, does appear to have a difficult time stopping new cases of cancer – notably, uterine corpus cancer – from emerging. This suggests that somewhere along the line – be it because of lifestyle choices, drinking water, or even because of poor medical facilities and training – Wisconsin is failing its citizens and ill-afford to continue doing so. It is manifest that the state must do a better job at preventative care. If it does not, it will continue to find itself languishing in comparative measures vis-à-vis other American states.
When the statistical focus shifts to cervical cancer directly, the grimness of the cancer epidemic becomes starker – both for Wisconsin, and for the nation. Evidence reveals that there will be 12,360 new cases of uterine cervix cancer in 2014. Uterine corpus cancer will, according to the American Cancer Society, constitute 52,630 new cases of cancer in 2014. Still, as terrible as these numbers are, they pale alongside statistics which show that 233,000 American men will contract prostate cancer this year. Even when the above “female” cancers are combined, they still amount to less than 28 percent of the total number of new cases arising from Prostate cancer (American Cancer Society, 2014c).
But how are things, specifically, in the state of Wisconsin? The aforementioned evidence makes it plain that things are actually somewhat reassuring - at least when it comes to new cases of cervical cancer. For example, Wisconsin is expected to have only 190 new cases of uterine cervix cancer in 2014. However, as it pertains to uterine corpus cancer, the figure is expected to stand at 1140 new cases in 2014. Nonetheless, even when compared, the two cancers barely constitute a quarter of all the new prostate cancer cases which are expected to hit the state in 2014 (American Cancer Society, 2014c). Be that as it may, Wisconsin’s position relative to other American states, if we look solely at new cases of uterine corpus cancer, is hardly encouraging. Wisconsin ranks fifteenth out of all US states in the number of new cases of this latter form of cancer. Given that much larger states, such as Maryland and Missouri and even Texas, have lower incidence rates (American Cancer Society, 2014c), something is clearly amiss. The curious thing about such a finding is that Wisconsin is actually ranked as above average by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it comes cervical cancer rates by state (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Whether it is dietary choices on the part of Wisconsin citizens, poor lifestyle choices, or something more sinister (like contamination in the drinking water), Wisconsin is near the bottom of the table when it comes to weighing its ability to prevent uterine corpus cancer from rearing its ugly head.
Gender is a very important factor to be considered when assessing cancer onset and mortality. Age-adjusted cancer death rates for American men, when assessed longitudinally from 1930 to 2010, find that prostate cancer rates have fallen sharply since reaching a peak in the early 1990s. Stomach cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and lung and bronchial cancer have all seen their mortality rates fall since that time, as well. Stomach cancer mortality rates, in fact, have been on a steady slide since the 1940s (American Cancer Society, 2014a). Detection methods and treatment for various cancers have been improving each decade, which suggests two things when examining Wisconsin’s issues with new cases of uterine corpus cancer: the state is getting consistently better at identifying the cancer; and the state is presumably not doing a good enough job at protecting its citizenry from the factors which make the contraction of such a cancer inevitable.
Staying momentarily with gender, one must explore women and their age-adjusted mortality rates in the realm of various cancers. Overall, and this makes Wisconsin perhaps somewhat of an outlier, age-adjusted cancer death rates for uterine cancer have plummeted since the 1940s. Colon and rectal cancer death rates for women have also fallen sharply since the middle of the twentieth century. Ovarian cancer, interestingly, has remained fairly steady, even bumping up slightly in the 1960s and early 1970s before its mortality rate began nudging downwards thereafter. Only age-adjusted death rates for lung and bronchial cancer have shot upwards for women in recent decades. The most recent data, mercifully, shows that this death rate has begun to inch downwards since about 2005 (American Cancer Society, 2014a). The point to all of this data is that American medicine is becoming better able to detect cancer and to treat it early. Nonetheless, the worrisome incidence rate of uterine corpus cancer in Wisconsin suggests that its mortality rate will not achieve optimal levels until such time as the factors which give rise to this dread disease are better controlled in the state. Even uterine cervix cancer, which is fortunately rare in the state, will not yield desirable or reassuring mortality figures until such time as the state can ascertain why it has the problem with some types of female cancers that it does. One can only hope the state figures it all out sooner rather than later – for the sake of all concerned.
So far, Wisconsin does not stand out favorably when it comes to fighting cervical cancers. This paper has devoted a lot of time and attention to comparisons between males and females as it pertains to differing incidence levels and mortality rates for various types of cancers. As time allows, it seems appropriate to look at the various incidence rates and mortality rates which expose themselves when we look at different age groups and ethnic groups in the state.
Pressing forward, we find other fascinating data trends when breaking down cancer rates into ethnic groupings. For instance, we learn that Spanish-Hispanic-Latina women have slightly lower cervical cancer incidence rates than Caucasian women when they are in their 20s. In the years from 30-39, the two groups of women converge; from the ages of 40-49, the incidence rates for Caucasian women in Wisconsin level off, while the incidence rates for the aforementioned Hispanic or Latin women skyrocket and are surpassed only by the incidence rates found amongst Native and American Indian women. As with native women, the new incidence rates for Latinas begins to drop noticeably after the age of 60. Meanwhile, the incidence rates for white women gradually taper downwards from the decade of the 30s until the end of life (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2014). The point here seems to be that something – perhaps something environmental – drives the incidence rates up for Latin-American women. One has to believe that the factor which is at play is linked to living standards and to poverty.
Lastly, as this paper draws to a close, it must be noted that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has grimly noted that cervical cancer death rates for Hispanic women, Asian women, and American Indian women of all ages are significantly higher than the mortality rates for Caucasian women (Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2014). One must make the inference that these white women are receiving earlier care, more comprehensive care, and are perhaps better equipped financially to access top-of-the-line healthcare facilities in the state. Whatever it may be, cervical cancer does not hit all women equally, and it hits some groups of women especially hard. While many possible explanations can – and already have – been put forward, it is most likely that programmatic oversight is to blame: recently, the state announced that it is cutting back a cancer program geared towards low-income women (Terkel, 2014). Programmatic initiatives and reversals like this one are not good for the state or for those women who are most likely to fall prey to cancer in all its manifestations.
There are things that can be done to aid Wisconsin in fighting to reduce cervical cancer rates in the state. Without question, the state needs to do a better job of providing funding for programs that aid low-income women – since it appears as though low-income, minority women are at the greatest risk when cancer strikes. Additionally, there is no doubt that these women must receive better preventative training so that they can avoid lifestyle choices that put them in the way of harm. For a state in a first-world country to have such a poor record of combatting various types of cancers is not acceptable, and suggests that people are engaged in risky lifestyle choices, or are the victims of a poor sanitation system that does not properly filter out carcinogens. Finally, if Wisconsin wishes to be innovative, it needs to do a more commendable job of giving women pap smears and early identification tests. Early identification can help women in making appropriate lifestyle choices that can nudge them away from dietary and lifestyle decisions (smoking, the use of controlled substances) that increase their risk of contracting cancer. These are all steps that can be implemented immediately, and will greatly facilitate a cancer-free state of Wisconsin.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Cervical cancer rates by state. Retrieved
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