Houston, TX 77005
2:00 p.m. Monday, April 8, 2013
On Campus | Alumni
Despite being the most preventable cancer, cervical cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Over 85% of cervical cancer incidence and mortality occurs in low-resource countries where screening programs for early detection are either inadequate or unavailable. In the developed world, where screening programs are well organized, incidence and mortality rates are greatly reduced. This reduction is largely credited to the use of Papanicolaou (Pap) smear followed by colposcopy. Further reduction is anticipated with the introduction of vaccines to prevent HPV infection, since about 70% of cervical cancer is caused by the high-risk HPV strains covered by newly available vaccines. It is challenging to implement these proven technologies in many low-resource settings, because of a lack of financial resources, infrastructure and trained personnel; moreover, health systems in developing countries are often coping with the demands of other competing health challenges such as malaria and HIV. Recent advances in optical imaging have the potential to enable cervical cancer screening at the point-of-care, even in the hands of less experienced providers. High performance optical imaging systems can be constructed at relatively low cost, and image analysis can be automated; thus, these technologies may provide a way to bridge the gap to cervical cancer screening for developing countries. Wide-field optical imaging systems can be used to acquire macroscopic images of the entire cervix, highlighting suspicious areas with high sensitivity, while high-resolution optical imaging systems can acquire microscopic images of such suspicious areas, confirming the presence of disease with high specificity. Using contrast agents with these systems can enhance image contrast, thus highlighting changes in biomarkers of cervical neoplasia. The main objectives of this research were to explore whether a combination of wide?field and high?resolution optical imaging of the cervix can assist in the detection of cervical neoplasia and to explore whether these techniques can be implemented effectively in a low-resource setting.