Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., M.P.H., attended the White House Cervical Cancer Forum on Thursday in Washington, D.C., where a national network to study self-collection of vaginal samples was announced.
By Carol McPhail
A GYN oncologist at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute called a new HPV testing study involving self-collection “the most important work we do in cervical cancer in this generation.”
Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., M.P.H., a gynecologic oncologist and director of the Division of Cancer Control and Prevention at the MCI, attended the White House Cervical Cancer Forum on Thursday in Washington, D.C., where a national network to study self-collection of vaginal samples was announced.
“This initiative will be the most important work we do in cervical cancer in this generation,” Pierce said. “The previous generation of scientists gave us the science and, ultimately, the HPV vaccine," Pierce said. "This initiative gives us the tools to see that every case of cervical cancer is prevented.”
An estimated 13,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. Caused by HPV, cervical cancer is highly preventable through HPV vaccination, and early detection and treatment of precancerous cervical changes. Yet, more than half of all cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the U.S. occur in individuals who have never been screened or who are screened infrequently.
Announced at the forum, the Self Collection for HPV Testing to Improve Cervical Cancer Prevention (SHIP) Trial Network will study the clinical performance of HPV testing that utilizes self-collection methods being evaluated by the FDA. The SHIP network is supported by the National Cancer Institute’s Cervical Cancer “Last Mile” Initiative and has the potential to add self-collection as a screening tool to reach underserved and under-screened individuals.
The current standard for cervical cancer screening involves a pap test and a test for HPV, with specimens collected during a pelvic exam in the clinical setting. As an alternative, individuals could collect vaginal samples at home and send them in for HPV testing. Self-collection could also be offered during other healthcare visits, when a pelvic examination is not practical or not preferred, the NCI said.
Pierce said she is hopeful the study will eventually lead to more women getting screened for HPV.
“The biggest impact will be in rural areas where women have difficulty getting to a doctor’s office to receive screening,” Pierce said. “Our hope is that this will end disparities and improve equity across Alabama.”
For more information about cervical cancer and the Mitchell Cancer Institute’s GO Teal and White campaign for cervical cancer awareness, visit www.usahealthsystem.com/go-teal-and-white.