Background: While high-risk geographic clusters of cervical cancer mortality have previously been assessed, factors associated with this geographic patterning have not been well studied. Once these factors are identified, etiologic hypotheses and targeted population-based interventions may be developed and lead to a reduction in geographic disparities in cervical cancer mortality. Methods: The authors linked multiple data sets at the county level to assess the effects of social domains, behavioral risk factors, local physician and hospital availability, and Chlamydia trachomatis infection on overall spatial clustering and on individual clusters of cervical cancer mortality rates in 2000-2004 among 3,105 US counties in the 48 states and the District of Columbia. Results: During the study period, a total of 19,898 cervical cancer deaths occurred in women aged 20 and older. The distributions of county-level characteristics indicated wide ranges in social domains measured by demographics and socioeconomic status, local health care resources, and the rate of chlamydial infection. We found that overall geographic clustering of increased cervical cancer mortality was related to the high proportion of black population, low socioeconomic status, low Papanicolaou test rate, low health care coverage, and the high chlamydia rate; however, unique characteristics existed for each individual cluster, and the Appalachian cluster was not related to a high proportion of black population or to chlamydia rates. Discussion: This study indicates that local social domains, behavioral risk, and health care sources are associated with geographic disparities in cervical cancer mortality rates. The association between the chlamydia rate and the cervical cancer mortality rate may be confounded by other factors known to be a risk for cervical cancer mortality, such as the infection with human papillomavirus. The findings will help cancer researchers examine etiologic hypotheses and develop tailored, cluster-specific interventions to reduce cervical cancer disparities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research