Cervical cancer is the 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. 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.
Thus Operation Stop Cervical Cancer Nigeria (SCCAN) − a joint effort of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Rice University Department of Bioengineering, and the University of Ibadan - School of Medicine − seeks to improve the screening and treatment of cervical cancer in the women of Nigeria; an effort made possible by a generous grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation.
With an inaugural visit in February 2006, clinical research of advanced diagnostic technologies (i.e. a multi-spectral digital colposcope) was initiated at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, medical leaders from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria were brought together to outline a work plan for the initial phases of Operation SCCAN, and an assessment of the needs and limitations in the provision of medical care was conducted. These activities occurred over the course of a two-day workshop held at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria on February 2-3, 2006.
A subsequent visit in the summer of 2006 served to bring together physicians, nurses, bioengineers, public health administrators, and data managers from each of the international partners and from across Nigeria. A training conference on July 9-16, 2006, again held at the IITA in Ibadan, allowed for the international representatives to provide their Nigerian counterparts in-person intensive instruction in all aspects of conducting an effective national cervical cancer screening program.
At present, further international interactions are planned to aide in the roll out of the national cervical screening program and to advance clinical research in the area of cervical screening in resource-constrained settings.
Operation Stop Cervical Cancer