Ohio State receives $11M NCI grant for Appalachian cervical cancer prevention

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A public health initiative aimed at preventing cervical cancer in at-risk Appalachian families from Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia is underway with support from an $11 million NCI grant to Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

The OSUCCC–James is collaborating with 10 health systems throughout Appalachian Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia to conduct this research, in partnership with the University of Kentucky, West Virginia University, and the University of Virginia.

Led by Electra Paskett, leader of the OSUCCC–James Cancer Control Research Program, this initiative builds on a history of collaborative research and community partnerships.

The effort will focus on reducing the burden of cervical cancer in at-risk Appalachian communities by specifically targeting the primary causes of cervical cancer: tobacco smoking, human papillomavirus infection, and lack of cervical cancer screening.

The project will implement and test the effectiveness of an integrated cervical cancer prevention program consisting of three interventions: nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation counseling services, a method of at-home HPV screening, and a medical practice-based intervention to improve HPV vaccination rates among patients age 11—26 years of age in Appalachia-based health centers.

“This region has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer and cervical cancer deaths in the United States. We know that smoking tobacco products, HPV infection, and lack of timely cervical cancer screening play a significant role in these exceptionally high rates,” Paskett, the Marion N. Rowley professor at Ohio State University College of Medicine and College of Public Health, said in a statement.

“In the Appalachian area of the United States, vaccination rates are still far below the national average, and studies have shown the HPV vaccine is effective for not only reducing rates of cervical cancer but also other forms of HPV-linked cancers that are on the rise,” said Paskett.

“These health disparities in underserved communities are not new—they are long-standing and must be addressed in a systematic, sustainable way. We hope to do just that through the type of intentional community collaboration established in this study.”

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