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Preventing Cancer in the Developing World: A Conversation with CureCervicalCancer

Preventing Cancer in the Developing World: A Conversation with CureCervicalCancer

In honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, we are proud to support CureCervicalCancer, a nonprofit dedicated to the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer around the globe for the women who need it most. Not only will we provide a financial contribution to help further CureCervicalCancer’s efforts, but you can look for more content this month about cervical health and how to prevent, detect, and treat cervical cancer. 

GCL: Tell us a bit about your organization and your mission. What motivates you to do this work? What inspires you to show up every day?

CCC: Every two minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer, a disease that is nearly 100% preventable with early vaccination and routine screening. A disproportionate 90% of these deaths occur in resource-poor countries where women lack access to basic healthcare. We refuse to accept this reality and believe that no woman should die from a preventable disease simply due to a lack of access.

CureCervicalCancer (CCC) is dedicated to the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer around the world for the women who need it most. CCC targets the world’s most vulnerable women; medically underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged women including LGBTQ, indigenous peoples, those with HIV, sex workers and refugees, to bring their communities access to life-saving cervical cancer screening and treatment services. CCC has established 100 sustainable cervical cancer prevention clinics in 9 countries that have screened over 145,000 women to date.

The world’s most vulnerable women are unjustly dying from a disease that we have the knowledge and the tools to prevent.

CCC identifies the highest need communities around the globe and establishes permanent cervical cancer prevention clinics. By training providers, donating equipment, and providing ongoing supervision and support, CCC establishes facilities that can offer ongoing high quality cervical cancer screening and treatment services. Pictured are women from a remote and rural village in Nairobi, Kenya, waiting in line to be screened for cervical cancer in 2019.

GCL: What are the risk factors for cervical cancer? What kinds of symptoms should individuals look out for?

CCC: Ninety-nine percent of cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. Four out of five people will have HPV at some point in their life, but most people’s immune systems are able to fight it off without the person ever knowing they have it. However, persistent infection can lead to abnormal cell changes on the cervix, which if left untreated can develop into cervical cancer. People who are immuno-compromised, like those who are living with HIV or those who smoke, are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

Oftentimes, cervical cancer has no symptoms until it is too late to effectively treat it. Therefore, routine screening is crucial to catch abnormal cells early before they can develop into cervical cancer. Even if you are vaccinated against HPV, you must continue to be screened on a routine basis. The most common signs of invasive cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal discharge, pain during intercourse, and pelvic pain. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you have any of these signs.

Cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable with early detection and prevention, yet it claims the lives of over 300,000 women each year simply due to a lack of access to prevention services. Pictured are trainees from Hue, Vietnam, in 2019 identifying abnormal cell changes on a cervix and preparing for ablation treatment.

GCL: On your website, you talk about your program's sustainability and its impact on cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment. Can you talk about this initiative and how it impacts the communities you work with?

CCC: Sustainability is vital to our core mission as an organization. To ensure our clinics have the largest possible impact, we focus on building the necessary local capacity for them to continue to screen and treat long after our team leaves the region. We increase the impact of our community-driven model by leveraging the resources and expertise of national and local ground partners who oversee our international programs around the world.

CCC conducts intensive trainings for healthcare professionals in the “See & Treat” method: screening with VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) and immediately treating precancerous cells with ablation. Healthcare professionals continue to receive support through on-the-job training and formal refresher trainings. To further build capacity, CCC also trains teams of local Master Trainers who serve as facilitators during training and as mentors to trainees throughout the duration of the project.

The “See & Treat” practicum training consists of dividing the trainees into small groups paired with an expert facilitator to ensure that each trainee gets personalized training and is exposed to a large volume of cases. The best way to gain confidence and competence is by doing the procedure. Pictured is a training program in Kenya in 2015.

CCC also trains and engages Community Health Workers as the vital link between the community and the clinic to increase patient turnout, identify and track high risk patients, and conduct educational talks in their communities. In settings where preventative care is not a priority or can be difficult to access, Community Health Workers spread awareness of the life-saving value of screening and ensure that women know how to access it.

Through our “Clinic-in-a-Suitcase” model, we equip clinics with a thermal ablation treatment device along with all of the necessary consumable supplies (speculums, gloves, acetic acid, bleach, etc.) until the clinic can operate independently.

With trained providers, equipment, and ongoing supervision and support, facilities can offer continued high quality “See & Treat” services. Mobile clinics bring “See & Treat” to women who otherwise do not have access due to distance or limited resources.

The “Clinic in a Suitcase” model brings life-saving services to some of the most remote corners of the world. Each suitcase contains all the necessary consumable supplies required to sustain a “See & Treat” clinic until the clinic can operate independently.

CCC’s mobile clinics bring screening services to some of the most remote corners of the world where women would otherwise need to travel by foot for hours to reach a facility that offers cervical cancer screening and treatment. 80% of women that develop cervical cancer globally have never been screened, simply because they do not have access.

CCC’s mobile clinics bring screening services to some of the most remote corners of the world where women would otherwise need to travel by foot for hours to reach a facility that offers cervical cancer screening and treatment. 80% of women that develop cervical cancer globally have never been screened, simply because they do not have access.

GCL: How can Good Clean Love's followers get involved or support CureCervicalCancer?

CCC: Support our cause by visiting our website to give the gift of life-saving cervical cancer screening and treatment to the women who need it most. You can also check out this page to see how you can get involved with CCC programs through volunteer opportunities, signing up for our monthly newsletter, and much more! Follow our social media so you never miss an update on our global impact or future opportunities to get involved!

Instagram: @CureCervicalCancer
Facebook: CureCervicalCancer
Twitter: @CCCorganization
LinkedIn: CureCervicalCancer
YouTube: CureCervicalCancer

CureCervicalCancer is dedicated to the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer around the world for the women who need it most.