Rising Incidence of Cervical Cancer Among Millennial Women

After decades of decline, cervical cancer is on the rise among millennial women. A study published in JAMA in 2022 revealed that the incidence of the disease since 2012 has risen by an average of 2.5 percent per year among women 30 to 34 years old — an increase experts call dramatic and surprising.

According to the study, which surveyed women in all 50 states between 2001 and 2019, the incidence of cervical cancer rose in millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23–38 in 2019) — while it decreased or stayed the same in all other age groups.

Specifically, the incidence — or the number of newly diagnosed cases during this period of time — fell among the youngest age group (under 24 years) as well as the oldest age group (55 and older) and remained relatively stable among 35- to 54-year-olds. But among women ages 30 to 34, cases have been rising since 2012, ultimately reaching an annual increase of almost 12 percent by 2019.

“The recent increase in cervical cancer among millennial women is a public health concern,” says Ashish Deshmukh, PhD, MPH, the coleader of the cancer control program at Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston and the lead investigator of the study.

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