Science & Tech

Preventing cervical cancer in developing nations

1 min read

Novel screening methods could save many lives

Cervical cancer kills approximately 190,000 women each year, most of them in developing nations. It is the third most common cancer world wide. Women who live in more affluent nations have access to Papanicolaou (Pap) tests, which allow pre-cancerous lesions to be detected and treated before they develop into full-blown cancer. But such screening and treatment in poorer countries has been difficult to deliver because of cost, the availability of technology and trained clinicians, and the infrastructure to track women with abnormal results. Now, a Harvard School of Public Health researcher has suggested testing for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the virus that causes cervical cancer, or a simple visual screening method called Direct Visual Inspection of the cervix (DVI) and immediately treating all women with abnormal tests. DVI is quite inexpensive. The study was supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention.