HPV Self-Collection May Increase Testing Among Under-Screened NC Women
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Researchers from the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine and Gillings School of Public Health are exploring the potential of HPV self-collection kits to increase cervical cancer screenings among underserved and under-screened women in North Carolina.
The aim of the study is to overcome hurdles such as transportation difficulties among women with a lack of insurance.
Jennifer Smith, associate professor of epidemiology at the university, explained self-collection kits are user-friendly and need no supervision, making it easy for women to test swiftly in a private location of their choice. By using prepaid mailers to send samples back for analysis, the kits could save lives.
"It's really increasing screening rates among the under-screened that is going to have the biggest impact on invasive cancer mortality in our state of North Carolina," Smith asserted.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal more than 8 million womenaged 21 to 65 have not undergone a cervical cancer screening in the past five years.
However, Smith's research indicates utilizing the kits has led to a substantial increase in screenings for women of diverse ages, backgrounds and insurance statuses who are at risk of cervical cancer.
More data from the CDC suggests up to 93% of cervical cancers could be prevented. The researchers aim for this trial to pave the way for self-collection kits to gain FDA approval. By offering a convenient and accessible alternative for screening, Smith hopes the initiative will improve preventive health care for all women in North Carolina and beyond.
"I think it's really important that women understand that if they are 21 years of age or older, they have access to pap-smear screenings, and if they're 30 years of age or older, they can also combine HPV testing along with the pap-smear testing or even HPV primary screening alone to screen for cervical cancer," Smith outlined.
With more than 12,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, Smith advised promoting open conversations with loved ones on the subject to encourage testing.
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