Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the developing world. A slow-progressing cancer that develops from the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus, when caught early it is usually curable, provided treatment is available. In developing countries the lack of effective screening – such as pap smears, which are often too expensive or simply unavailable – has led to excessively high death rates.
EngenderHealth is involved with developing alternative cervical cancer screenings that can be used everywhere. In South Africa, EngenderHealth collaborated with Columbia University, the University of Cape Town, and the Cancer Society of South Africa (CANSA) to investigate the safety, efficacy, and feasibility the “screen and treat” approach, which relies on visual inspection of the cervix and DNA testing, followed by cryotherapy treatment for women testing positive. This low-cost strategy could save an estimated 250,000 lives annually.
With the governments of South Africa, India, and Bolivia, EngenderHealth has assessed existing cervical cancer screening services and made recommendations for improving them. In addition, EngenderHealth is a member of the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention, which published a list of 10 key recommendations for effective cervical cancer screening and treatment.