In February of 2005, the Principal Investigators of the NIH/NCI-funded Program Project “Optical Technologies for Cervical Cancer” contacted Dr. Isaac F. Adewole, from the University College Hospital in Ibadan in Nigeria, to explore a collaboration. That same May, Professor Isaac Adewole met with Dr. Michele Follen and investigators from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Rice University, and the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, about the possiblity of initiating a collaboration to use optical technologies to detect cervical cancer.
Background + Project initiation
Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer mortality in women worldwide, with >80% of cases arising in the developing world. Nigeria is home to nearly a quarter of all persons on the African continent, and thus to a substantial portion of those adversely impacted by the incidence of cervical cancer. Sadly in Nigeria very few women are screened for cervical cancer. In fact, it is estimated that only 10% of female physicians in Nigeria have ever had a Pap smear themselves. Almost a quarter of all cancer deaths amongst Nigerian women are due to cervical cancer. In the general population, delays in screening and treatment arise from a number of reasons including cultural constraints (e.g. emotional distress with in having male physicians perform tests) and poor governmental funding for medical facilities.
The research group was very interested in seeing these technologies used in settings in which they could replace infrastructure. Optical technologies developed through the wider Program Project have been tested in the United States and Canada and approved by the FDA as low risk devices. In October of 2005, the ExxonMobil Foundation funded a seed grant to explore the feasibility of a program to detect cervical cancer - and additional support was secured to help initiate a research collaboration that remains effective to this day.
Please peruse the links below to learn more about our efforts to apply optical screening devices in a part of the world where cervical cancer remains endemic.