Study: Reducing high rates of cervical cancer deaths in India requires research to ensure cancer screening efforts are widely accepted

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Available cancer screening tools could greatly reduce cervical cancer deaths India, but there is a lack of understanding of how to ensure cervical cancer prevention efforts are effectively implemented and widely accepted, according to new research by RTI International, St. John’s Research Institute, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Public Health Foundation of India.

In India cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality for women, accounting for 17 percent of all cancer deaths of women ages 30 to 69. Annual cervical cancer deaths for women in their mid-life years are expected to climb to 225,000 by the year 2025, yet no widespread screening or cancer prevention programs exist. Most cervical cancer diagnoses in India are not made until the cancer has reached an advanced, often untreatable stage.

A new paper, published online in The Oncologist, analyzed research literature on cervical cancer prevention and experiences with existing prevention programs in India to gauge the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of prevention strategies and recommended research priorities to turn existing knowledge into policies and programs. The paper is based on a study funded by Bank Netherlands Partnership Program, which is managed by the World Bank.

The researchers reported that studies had demonstrated the feasibility of cervical cancer screening and treatment strategies in India. They also showed that screening strategies requiring minimal additional human resources and laboratory infrastructure can reduce cervical cancer deaths.

However, the study also suggested there is a need for implementation science research to ensure that cervical cancer prevention efforts are widely accepted, achieve high coverage and are cost-effective.

The authors suggest the following research priorities:

  • Understanding individual and community-level barriers to uptake of screening, diagnostic and treatment services
  • Improving healthcare worker performance by identifying effective methods for training, supporting and supervising providers
  • Identifying and evaluating strategies to strengthen the links between screening, diagnosis and treatment
  • Identifying the optimal program design, outcomes and costs given the number of competing public health priorities facing the Indian government

“With a quarter of the global burden of cervical cancer in India, there is no better time than now to translate research findings into practice,” said Suneeta Krishnan, Ph.D., a social epidemiologist at RTI and the paper’s lead author. “Implementation science can help ensure that investments in cervical cancer prevention and control result in the greatest impact.”

 

two Indian women

Highlights

  • In India, there is a lack of understanding of how to ensure cervical cancer prevention efforts are effectively implemented and widely accepted
  • A new paper analyzed research literature on cervical cancer prevention and experiences with existing prevention programs in India to gauge the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of prevention strategies
  • The researchers also recommends research priorities to turn existing knowledge into policies and programs