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Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR) Excited to Hear of New Cervical Cancer Discovery

Article by Doyin Oluwole June 20, 2012 //   4 minute read

We are excited to read about this new discovery in the fight against cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2008, this disease was diagnosed in 12,410 U.S. women, and killed 3 out of 10 women diagnosed. In sub-Saharan Africa, this number is even more dramatic with 75,141 women diagnosed and 7 in 10 women dying from this deadly disease. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR) was launched in September 2011 by the George W. Bush Institute, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen for the Cure and UNAIDS with the goal of saving as many lives as possible. Joined by eight corporate organizations, this partnership has been working to combat cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa where it is the most common women's cancer. PRRR's team knows first-hand how each and every breakthrough - such as identifying the roots of cervical cancer that was announced this week - helps to speed the cure for thousands of our mothers, our sisters, and our wives here and around the globe. Our nation's work in Africa to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS also led to several breakthroughs in the fight against cervical cancer. For example, we discovered that HIV-positive women are 4 to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed earlier in life and with more aggressive forms of cervical cancer than their HIV-negative counterparts. This discovery helps us better target the women at risk, screen them, and identify the pre-cancer and early cancer stages when these women can still be cured. Working with the infrastructure set up by PEPFAR for the fight against HIV/AIDS, PRRR is helping nations such as Zambia accelerate their plan to identify and treat women suffering from cervical and breast cancer. We look forward to learning more about this cell discovery and how we can use this new information in our fight against cervical cancer. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that it takes only a visual inspection of the cervix using acetic acid – or household vinegar – by a trained nurse or midwife and it costs pennies. These visual inspections take only minutes and if a woman is found to have a pre-cancerous lesion – it takes less than 20 minutes for the life-saving cryotherapy, done on same day. By contrast, if a woman waits until the cancer has developed, a biopsy of the cervix, histology, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cost $10,000-$15,000—way beyond the reach of many in sub-Saharan Africa. The issue isn't that we don't know how to treat this cancer if found early, the issue is reaching out to women in the most remote and poorest areas of the world, and doing so in a timely manner. Any breakthrough helps us reach our goal of a 25-percent reduction in cervical cancer deaths much faster.

This post was written by Doyin Oluwole, Founding Executive Director of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon based at the George W. Bush Institute

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