Who we are

We are an interdisciplinary team of professionals who believe no woman should die of a preventable cancer.

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Peru. It is also highly preventable.

Our team works hand in hand with health professionals, health authorities, and key decision-makers in the rainforest city of Iquitos, Peru to develop a comprehensive, more accessible, and better-coordinated program that is equipped to prevent needless deaths. We serve as facilitators and consultants, providing the tools and resources that our local collaborators need to make informed decisions and create a system that adequately addresses women’s needs. 

The impetus to start Proyecto Precáncer came in 2015, following the completion of a clinical study in Iquitos that used HPV testing and identified a positive correlation between invasive cervical cancer incidence and burden of soil-transmitted parasites. Local stakeholders who participated in the study expressed interest in incorporating HPV testing into the regional screening program, which mobilized principal investigators to consider how to best facilitate that transition sustainably. 

The project began its work in Iquitos in 2016 and has since evolved into an ongoing collaboration between a large group of dedicated health professionals in Iquitos, the Loreto region’s Ministry of Health (DIRESA), Tulane University, the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Virginia, and the Peruvian non-governmental organization PRISMA. 

An effective healthcare system is needed to prevent cervical cancer deaths, and we are confident it can be achieved. 

Our principles

 

Collaboration:

We have engaged a large group of local multi-level stakeholders relevant to cervical cancer prevention, including nurse-midwives (obstetras), nurses, technicians, doctors, gynecologists, pathologists, oncologists, policymakers, and health authorities. In order to design and implement a coordinated screening strategy, everyone’s perspective needs to be included. We encourage our collaborators to actively participate in working groups and design workshops (or "deliberative dialogue" meetings) because they understand their health system and its capacity better than anyone. 

 

Sustainability:

Our hope is that the screening strategy we help implement will continue to serve women in the community long after our funding period ends. We promote locally designed and locally driven implementation and ensure that our collaborators are equipped to address any challenges that may arise in the future.

 

Evidence & Transparency:

We seek to share the most updated evidence related to cervical cancer screening and treatment and to debunk outdated convictions. There is no hidden agenda. We promote evidence-based practices that are tested and approved by authorities including the World Health Organization.

 

Women-focused:

Although we predominantly collaborate with professionals from within the health system, we continuously emphasize the need to “get in the others’ shoes”. We conduct focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, and surveys to understand what women know about cervical cancer prevention, what they do to take care of themselves, and reasons for not receiving follow-up  up on abnormal test results. We also work with health professionals to deconstruct stigmatizing messages and promote positive and empowering health communication.

 

The research conducted by Proyecto Precáncer is supported by grant funding from the US National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01CA190366 (Gravitt/Paz-Soldan).