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New Findings Support Alternatives to Pap Test
Date:3/5/2008

Simple, affordable cervical cancer exams may be the answer in developing

world

WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP), a partnership of five international public health research organizations, today announced key findings and recommendations resulting from eight years of studies in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. At the top of the list: early identification of precancer using simple, visual inspections of women is as effective, and in some cases more effective, than technically difficult and expensive Pap testing.

Cervical cancer, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), affects about 500,000 women each year and kills 270,000 annually. There is a huge discrepancy between cervical cancer deaths in rich and poor nations -- 80 to 85 percent of deaths occur in the developing world. In developed countries, screening programs using the Pap smear are in place to spot disease and treat it early, saving countless lives. However, a successful Pap testing program requires a high degree of organization, sophisticated laboratory equipment, and highly trained technicians. Unfortunately, in spite of efforts by many governments, large-scale Pap screening programs have not worked in poorer regions. It was frustration with this lack of success that mobilized ACCP efforts to find alternative approaches to Pap testing. Funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During a panel presentation at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC, Dr. Jacqueline Sherris of PATH, an ACCP founder, noted that "cervical cancer represents a huge global inequity with a heavy burden on poor women. It is an awful disease that shatters families by taking women at the peak of their productive lives, when they are in their 40s and 50s. Often, and especially in communities with large numbers of AIDS orphans, these grandmothers and aunts play a crucial role in r
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SOURCE PATH/ACCP
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