MAR 06, 2017 7:19 PM PST

Effective Cervical Cancer Screening for Underserved Populations

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

New findings about cervical cancer could be great news for women all over the world, if the findings are heeded. It seems that only a small cell sample from  women who are at high risk for developing cervical cancer would be an effective and low-cost way to make an important, early diagnosis in places considered to be low and middle income countries (LMICs). The work was led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) with funding from Cancer Research UK and it has been published in the Journal of Global Oncology. For women in the developing world, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer. Worldwide, it is responsible for the deaths of around a quarter of a million women every year, many of them occurring in LMICs.

A cytologic smear under the microscope / Credit: QMUL

It's a typical part of routine health screens for women that have access to health care in developed countries. However, in countries without good health care infrastructure or resources like diagnostic laboratories, there has been a glaring lack of such screening methods. Those methods, cytological or cell based processes, are usually very effective at diagnosing the threat of cervical cancer before it fully progresses to cancer.

This is the first study that examines how effective cytology is at diagnosing cervical cancer in LMICs. The investigators examined  cytology data from 23 studies in a variety of countries including fIndia, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina and Egypt, covering  717 cervical cancers. The researchers postulated that it's possible to make an earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer in these countries by employing cytology.

It was found that even in settings with limited access to resources, cytology is still very sensitive and consistent at diagnosing invasive cancer. Cytology successfully identified cancer with 95.9 percent accuracy in high-risk women that were showing symptoms.

"Cytology has long been established as an excellent screening tool to prevent cervical cancer by detecting precancerous lesions. However, little research has been carried out regarding its sensitivity to cancer," explained the corresponding author of the work, Dr. Alejandra Castanon of QMUL.

"We've found that this is an excellent tool for targeted screening of populations at high risk of cervical cancer, leading to early diagnosis. In resource-poor settings with limited facilities to treat advanced cancers, this could have a big impact on cervical cancer mortality."

Cytology could be used only on women with symptoms, and only sending those affected by severe lesions for additional treatment would result in far fewer women needing more investigation. There would subsequently be a reduction resource and cost burden, and may help catch cervical cancers at an earlier stage, thus improving the overall survival in those affected by the disease.

"The implications are that, even when a country lacks infrastructure to implement a quality-assured cervical screening program nationally, it might be able to facilitate early diagnosis of cervical cancer by using cervical cytology, and only referring women with severely abnormal smears," explained one co-author of the work, Professor Peter Sasieni from QMUL. 

If you would like more information on how improved screening for cervical cancer could help underserved, check out the webinar above, "Cervical Cancer Screening of Vulnerable Populations," in this case about people in developed nations like the US.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via QMUL, Journal of Global Oncology

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 11, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 11, 2019
New Device Improves Accuracy In Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Acute respiratory distress syndrome ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in the alveoli. These tiny elastics sacs, which are responsible for gaseous exchange i...
AUG 07, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 07, 2019
Hepatitis A Causes Public Health Crisis In Florida
Although highly contagious, Hepatitis A is considered a rare disease. It has largely been controlled through immunizations. That said, in Florida, Hepatiti...
AUG 04, 2019
Immunology
AUG 04, 2019
New Research In Reversing Deafness
Hair cells inside the human ear are responsible for sensing and relaying sound to the brain.  In all mammals except humans, these cells can regenerate...
AUG 23, 2019
Immunology
AUG 23, 2019
Making Opioids Safer
The opioid crisis results in 130 American deaths every day, and both prescribed and synthetic opioids are at the core of the epidemic.  Any other drug...
NOV 10, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 10, 2019
A New Strain of HIV is Identified
For the first time since 2000, researchers have identified a new subtype of HIV....
JAN 13, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 13, 2020
Magnetic Field-guided Tethered-probe Can Navigate Complex Vascular Networks
Deep and complex vasculatures such as carotid arteries represent a challenge for diagnosis and treatment because they are buried underneath layers of other...
Loading Comments...