Early Detection And Treatment
of Cervical Cancer In India

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Kathryn Vizas

Kathryn is an attorney and advocate with a successful career in law spanning more than two decades as general counsel at Peregrine Systems, chief litigation attorney for a $2 billion division of Raychem, and at Levi Strauss & Co. She was a Rotary International Fellow at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and later graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She serves on numerous nonprofit boards including the International Center for Social Franchising, Ipas, and TogetHER for Health.

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women screened for cervical cancer


people reached with information on cervical cancer screening and treatment


women treated for pre-cancerous lesions

The Issue

Cervical cancer is preventable, yet thousands of women in India die from the disease every year.

It can take up to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop after infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This window is an opportunity to screen and treat women before advanced cancer develops. A simple swab of diluted vinegar on the cervix and visual inspection by a trained medical provider can detect precancerous lesions – and, most important, is inexpensive and highly effective. For women who have precancerous lesions, treatment can be done at the same visit, through another inexpensive and painless procedure. These tools are safe and cost‐effective, but are not available to the vast majority of women in India and across developing countries ‐ leading to many needless deaths.

Pilot And Learn

This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of a single‐visit ‘screen and treat’ approach to fighting cervical cancer in three districts of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.

In India, the fact that cervical cancer screening is cheap, painless and can save lives is little known. That is why PSI is training doctors to make cervical cancer screening and treatment routine. PSI is raising awareness of, and demand for, screening through in‐clinic and community‐based marketing, using neighborhood meetings, free community clinics, and targeted messaging at clinics. In addition, volunteers and lay health workers make household visits to women in the community to teach them about cervical cancer and refer them for screening.

Leverage And Scale

Because one in five women with cervical cancer lives in India, a successful model at scale would reduce a significant number of the deaths from the disease.

The project has grown beyond the initial plan to screen through private health care providers. The initial pilot of the ‘screen and treat’ approach attracted the interest of the Government of Uttar Pradesh, which is now working with PSI to offer screening and treatment of several non‐communicable diseases, including cervical cancer, in public facilities in five districts. The intent is to expand the program into 28 districts. PSI has also established a partnership with the Indian Medical Association to train health care providers and to advocate for screening, which has the potential to reach millions of women across Uttar Pradesh and the rest of India.