Optical Devices
and Molecular Imaging for Cervical Neoplasia

A Translational Research Project
Overview
The leading cause of cancer death in women from developing nations is cervical cancer.  It is estimated that over half a million new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed worldwide in 2007, with more than 300,000 women dying of this disease in the same year (1).  There is a dire global need for effective and affordable approaches to cervical cancer screening and diagnosis.
High death rates for cervical cancer are particularly difficult to accept since the disease can often be prevented.  Wherever screening programs have been implemented, cervical cancer deaths decrease dramatically.  For example, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, cervical cancer incidence has declined by more than two thirds over the last 50 years (2). 
Of course, cervical cancers and pre-cancers still pose challenges in the developed world as well.  The high costs of screening can be a burden to our health systems and over-treatment can result when tests produce ‘false positive’ results (this is explained in greater detail here).
For the past 11 years, we have been working on a large project to evaluate optical technologies as a means for addressing the cervical cancer problem.  This work has been funded by a US National Cancer Institute Program Project grant (P01 CA82710).  Our objective is to develop new devices and approaches for detecting and diagnosing disease.  To effectively tackle the cervical cancer problem, we are making tools that are:
  • Easy to use (i.e. requiring minimal expertise)
  • More accurate than existing tools
  • Realistic to use in a variety of clinical settings (e.g. in places where cold storage may be difficult to maintain, etc.)

We are passionate about tackling the cervical cancer problem and we are thankful for the tremendous support we have received while undertaking this work.  Whether you have come to this site as a patient from one of our sub-projects or simply as someone looking to learn more about this disease, we thank you for your interest and encourage you to visit the various pages we have made available.
References:
1. Thun MJ, DeLancey JO, Center MM, Jemal A, Ward EM (2010) The global burden
of cancer: priorities for prevention. Carcinogenesis, 31:100-10.

2. British Columbia Cancer Agency (2004) Cervical Cancer Screening Program: 2004
Annual Report. Vancouver, BC, Canada.