Scientists call for action to tackle 'alarmingly' low survival of Kenyan women with cervical cancer

October 30, 2013

Less than 7% of cervical cancer patients in Kenya are getting the optimum treatment needed to eradicate the disease, leading to unnecessary deaths - a study by The University of Manchester scientists reveals.

Results from the research, which looked retrospectively at the treatment of diagnosed with cervical during a two year period, showed 18% of cervical cancer patients in the East African country died within two years of a diagnosis.

Dr Ian Hampson, from The University of Manchester's Institute of Cancer Sciences who oversaw the research, said the findings, published in PLOS One this week, add further weight to the call to spend more on cancer screening and prevention in Kenya.

Cervical cancer is caused by infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) and is more than five times more prevalent in East Africa than the UK.

The Manchester researchers analysed treatment of 355 Kenyan women diagnosed with cervical cancer at the Departments of Gynaecology and Radiotherapy at Kenyatta National Hospital between 2008 and 2010. Of the 355 patients originally recorded, 146 (42%) disappeared during the two year period meaning they did not receive treatment. A further 64 (18%) of the remaining women died during the study period.

Dr Hampson said: "Our figures predict that less than 20% of those left will survive during the next two years. The late stage at which women get diagnosed, inaccurate assessments of the extent of the disease and long waiting times for treatment are all significant factors in this huge difference in survival rates between Kenya and the UK as well as poverty and lack of cancer awareness. Our study suggests simple, cost effective changes in hospital procedures to improve the situation."

The research team are now looking for more funders to help improve cancer treatment in Kenya, like The American company Hologic who have provided free HPV and equipment plus running costs.

Dr Innocent Orora Maranga, who carried out the research as part of his PhD under the supervision of Drs Ian and Lynne Hampson in Manchester and Dr Peter Gichangi in Nairobi, said: "I am constantly surprised how few people in the UK know about the extent of the cervical cancer problem in East Africa which has the highest incidence in the world.

"The main issue is that, like many other low income nations, Kenya does not have a cervical screening program to detect the disease in its earliest stages or even the resources to treat this appropriately."

The research is funded by The Janice Cholerton Cancer and Postgraduate Studentship Fund, The Humane Research Trust, The International Atomic Energy Agency and Wellbeing of Women. Support from these and other charities including The Caring Cancer Research Trust, The Cancer Prevention Research Trust, United in Cancer Quest Cancer Research and The Charities Aid Foundation East Africa Medical Trust, has allowed the team to carry out free HPV testing and cervical screening on smears taken from 800 Kenyan women. Over 50 women found to have premalignant cervical disease and five with invasive cancer which would have gone undetected are now getting free treatment.

Dr Maranga, now consultant gynaecologist in Nairobi, has also established the Kenyan charity Cancer Research Trust- Kenya (CRT-K) with personal support from a UK philanthropist Ken Cholerton. CRT-K has contributed to the cost of cervical screening and also paid for the treatment costs of over 220 Kenyan women with advanced who could not afford this.

Dr Hampson, who is also part of Manchester Cancer Resdearch Centre (MCRC) a partnership between the University, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Cancer Research UK, added: "We have established a unique close working relationship between physicians/care-givers working in Nairobi and scientists and physicians in Manchester which gives us a golden opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of many Kenyan women afflicted with this disease.

"We have made a fantastic start to tackling a very significant global health problem. We have assembled all the pieces of the engine – now all we need is the fuel to run it."

Explore further: Some types of papilloma virus might prevent cervical cancer

Related Stories

Some types of papilloma virus might prevent cervical cancer

April 10, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Certain types of papilloma virus might actually prevent cervical cancer, according to a new study by researchers from The University of Manchester.

Cervical cancer screening and treatment are neglected in low- and middle-income countries

August 13, 2013
While there have been substantial improvements in mortality rates and an increase in access to reproductive health interventions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the global health community is neglecting prevention, ...

HPV testing could cut cervical cancers by a third

June 14, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Testing women for the human papillomavirus (HPV) first, instead of using the traditional cervical screening test to detect abnormal cells in the cervix, could prevent around 600 cases of cervical cancer ...

Self-collection of samples for HPV testing shows promise in detection of cervical cancer in Kenya

May 1, 2013
In Kenya, women face a cervical cancer mortality rate that is approximately 10 times as high as in the United States. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that training women ...

HPV strains affecting African-American women differ from vaccines

October 28, 2013
Two subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) prevented by vaccines are half as likely to be found in African-American women as in white women with precancerous cervical lesions, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

Study suggests STD clinics could reduce obstacles to much needed cervical cancer screenings

July 16, 2013
A new study found that STD clinics could provide important access to cervical cancer screenings for women who traditionally have trouble receiving these screenings because of lack of insurance or other obstacles.

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.