Health Systems Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kenya

Health Systems Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kenya

Blog by Charlotte Page, Ob/Gyn Resident: This is a follow-up post to “Patient Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kenya”. I’ve realized while in Kenya that there are a lot of things I take for granted in bathrooms in the US: running water, a toilet that flushes, toilet paper, soap, and electricity. If you’re missing one of these things, the restroom is that much more uncomfortable – or perhaps even unfunctional. Similarly, small systems issues here in Kenya can inhibit women from receiving the healthcare they need. For the HPV-positive women in the study I’m working on, such problems can significantly increase the amount of time and effort required to get treated with cryotherapy, to the point that some women don’t obtain treatment at all. To paint a picture: yesterday I was at Migori County Referral Hospital (MCRH), one of the sites where cryotherapy is provided in our study. This procedure uses compressed gas to freeze precancerous cells on the cervix, thereby preventing them...
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Patient Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kenya

Patient Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kenya

Starting at age 21, you get regular pap smears. You get in your car, drive on a paved road to an Ob/Gyn or primary care clinic, and have the pap done, with relatively little effort on your part. That’s how cervical cancer screening works for most women in the United States and most other developed countries. In these countries, pap smears have significantly reduced rates of cervical cancer and resulting deaths. It’s a different story in developing countries like Kenya. In East Africa, cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women, even surpassing breast cancer. In Kenya, only 3.5%[1] of eligible women ever get screened for cervical cancer, and it’s difficult for those that screen positive for precancer or cancer to access treatment. Some barriers relate to infrastructure, as cervical cancer prevention and treatment requires resources including skilled providers, supplies, and transportation of specimens. To try to overcome some of these systems issues, Dr. Megan Huchko (director of the Center for...
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New study shows low, declining HPV vaccine follow-through in U.S.

New study shows low, declining HPV vaccine follow-through in U.S.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, and causes about 31,500 cancers in the United States each year. It also has a vaccine--but many Americans aren't being vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is already underutilized in the United States, and a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that HPV vaccine follow-through is declining over time. The vaccine, which is highly effective at preventing the development of abnormal cells that can progress to cervical cancer, is delivered in a series of doses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children ages 11-12 should get two doses of the vaccine six to twelve months apart; adolescents older than 14 should get three shots over four months. Yet the survey of more than a million privately-insured Americans showed that vaccine follow-through declined from 2006 to 2014. The decrease was especially prominent among female patients, from 67% in 2006 to 38%...
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Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical Health Awareness Month

People across the U.S. are kicking off 2018 right with health-conscious resolutions. According to Statista, 45% of Americans hope to “lose weight or get in shape” in 2018. But January offers another opportunity to celebrate and jump-start health awareness: it’s Cervical Health Awareness Month. In the U.S. there are between 11,000 and 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually, and cervical cancer is the fourth most prevalent form of cancer among women globally. While patients diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer have 5-year survival rates of up to 91%, the disease becomes far more deadly as cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body. Fortunately, proactive methods like HPV vaccinations and screenings can keep cervical cancer at bay, and mitigate almost all deaths related to cervical cancer. However, access to such healthcare often depends on a woman’s geographic location and socioeconomic status. According to the WHO, “approximately 90% [of] the 270,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2015 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.” Duke...
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