Cervical Cancer

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) found in a Pap smear
Ed Uthman / Flickr Creative Commons

A study out of Duke University suggests the HPV vaccine might not be as effective for African-American women. 

The vaccine protects against two subtypes of the Human papillomavirus that cause 70 percent of cases that develop into cervical cancer, but researchers found black women are half as likely as white women to be infected with those strains. 

The findings could help explain racial discrepancies in the rates of cancer.

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

For decades, women have been told to get annual screenings for cervical cancer. In 2009, mounting scientific evidence prompted major groups like the American Cancer Society to recommend less frequent screenings; every 3 years instead of every year.

Despite the revised guidelines, about half of the OB/GYNs surveyed reported they continue to provide yearly exams. Dr. Russell Harris from UNC's Center for Health Services Research says that practice is outdated and may do more harm than good.