Science and Tech


Study: Black, Hispanic Women More Likely To Die From Uterine Cancer

More aggressive non-endometroid uterine cancer deaths increased by almost 3% per year. Black women face the harshest fatality rates.
Posted at 8:28 PM, May 05, 2022

More women are dying from uterine cancers each year.

Scientists with the National Cancer Institute saw an increase in uterine cancer deaths by nearly 2% each year between 2010 and 2017. 

More aggressive non-endometroid uterine cancer deaths increased by almost 3% per year. 

Black women faced the harshest fatality rates. 

Shakeya Allen was diagnosed with uterine cancer at 27. She had to battle just to get that diagnosis and looking back, thinks it was because of her age and race.  

"They would tell me it was polycystic cyst disorder. They would tell me that it was a hormonal imbalance," Allen said. "They would tell me all kinds of different things instead of actually just doing the work to find out exactly what it was."

She had surgery to remove her uterus in 2009. Because of lingering health issues, she's undergoing tests to see if she now has ovarian cancer. 

Lead researcher Dr. Megan Clarke told reporters one of the reasons for the rising death rates is aggressive non-endometroid uterine cancers. 

"I think in general, uterine cancer has been underappreciated because it's been historically thought of as something we can treat right away," she said. "The survival is so great, we don't need to worry but we see these rising rates of these aggressive cancers that make up 20% of all uterine cancers and now we see that is translating to higher mortality."

The American Cancer Society says many factors are to blame. Cancer treatment costs are getting more expensive for the patient. And access to care and education is harder for patients of color. 

"There's important barriers too that are well-founded, from historical missteps related to clinical studies and communities of color that that still are present today in terms of their memory and certainly concerns about them, which i think are very relevant," said Dr. Arif Kamal, Chief Patient Officer for the American Cancer Society. 

Diagnosis for uterine cancers is difficult. Routine pap smears can't detect it. 

Right now, experts say most uterine cancers aren't detected until a patient starts showing symptoms, like unusual bleeding. 

Allen started the Uterine Cancer Awareness Network, connecting patients like her.

"That's what keeps me going," she said. "Every day I wake up, I try to find other ways to try to make sure that women are informed."