Skip to content

Shaheen Sends Bipartisan Letter Urging HHS to Renew Efforts to Increase Cervical Cancer Screening Rates

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the administration to renew its efforts to increase cervical cancer screening rates. Data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shows that cervical cancer incidence in women under the age of 50 has been increasing in recent years, in particular for rural and underserved communities. In light of these increases in cancer rates, the letter reiterates the importance of not only ensuring existing access to cervical cancer screenings but expanding access to new communities and traditionally disadvantaged, underserved populations with disproportionately high cancer rates.  

The Senators wrote, in part, “Despite the dramatic reduction in cervical cancer historically, the latest National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result Program (SEER) data show that cervical cancer incidence in women under the age of 50 has been increasing — with the sharpest increase in incidence among women aged 30-34. […] These statistics are particularly troubling because cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers when women are routinely screened.” 

They continued, “We urge caution against changes that would further increase intervals between cervical cancer screenings, increase the recommended age to begin screening, or potentially lead to reduced screening rates and confusion among health care providers and their patients. Such changes could make it less likely that women with already low screening rates, or who only periodically receive screenings, are provided with the comprehensive cervical cancer screenings recommended under current USPSTF guidelines.” 

In addition to Shaheen and Marshall, the letter is co-signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA). 

Senator Shaheen has a history of working across the aisle to increase access to preventative screenings. Shaheen introduced the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2019 with a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The bipartisan legislation would postpone recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that would limit access to breast cancer screenings for women in their 40s. In January 2020, in response to a bipartisan call from Shaheen and former U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) – and following the introduction of their bipartisan legislation to address the issue – the Department of Defense agreed to expand TRICARE coverage to include 3D mammography, which is the most effective breast cancer screening option.