BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new study shows more women in Alabama are dying from a preventable and curable form of cancer than any other state.
The study conducted by advocacy group Human Rights Watch, African American communities in the Black Belt are the most impacted and most likely to die from cervical cancer.
UAB Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Trey Leath said it likely boils down to lack of access to care, follow-up care, and getting vaccinated.
“Some of that may the fact that we have higher rates of low insurance or lower coverage. Many of our citizens are either uninsured or underinsured,” said Dr. Leath.
According to Dr. Leath, if screening tests like a Pap Smear and HPV test come back abnormal, follow-up exams are paramount.
"We have an HPV vaccine that decreases the risk of cervical pre-cancer and dysphasia in the genital tract. So, we would encourage both boys and girls as well as men and women up to age 45 to be vaccinated," explained Leath.
Leath said the best time to be vaccinated is during pediatric years when a person is less likely to be exposed to HPV, which can take years to develop into cancer.
Watch the more in-depth interview with Dr. Leath below.