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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

AIIMS Delhi launches multi-centre study to develop low-cost cervical cancer tests

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In India, it is the second most common cancer among women after breast cancer

PTI New Delhi Published 12.04.24, 06:40 PM
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To develop and validate low-cost, point-of-care indigenous HPV tests for detection of cervical cancer, AIIMS here on Friday launched a multi-centre study with the support of DBT-BIRAC Grand Challenges India in collaboration with WHO's International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC).

Validation studies for three indigenous human papillomavirus (HPV) tests will be conducted at AIIMS, Delhi, National Institute of Cancer Prevention Research in Noida and National Institute for Research in Reproductive and Child Health in Mumbai, Dr Neerja Bhatla, former head of department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at AIIMS, Delhi and chief coordinator of the programme said on Friday.

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Presently, HPV tests are expensive and need elaborate laboratory setups. They should meet international standards to receive WHO prequalification and have necessary quality assurance, she said.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In India, it is the second most common cancer among women after breast cancer. Every two minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer around the world, Bhatla said.

According to Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) data, an estimated 6,63,301 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide in 2022 and about 3,48,874 women died from the disease. Low-middle income countries (LMIC) like India contribute nearly 80 per cent of the disease burden.

In India, there are approximately 1,27,526 new cases and 79,906 deaths per annum, Bhatla stated.

"Considering this, the WHO launched 'Call For Elimination of Cervical Cancer' with a vision of a cervical cancer-free world in which India is also one of the signatories. By 2030, we should meet the targets of screening 70 per cent of women and vaccinating 90 per cent of girls," she said.

Cervical cancer is preventable and can be treated if detected in precancerous or early stages, she added.

Persistent infection with high-risk HPV has been found to be the necessary cause of cervical cancer. Hence, WHO recommends HPV testing at the age of 35 and 45 years in the elimination strategy.

To achieve the 2030 targets and incorporate HPV testing into the national programme, there is an urgent need to develop and validate low-cost, point-of-care indigenous HPV tests which can detect the major cancer-causing HPV genotypes in the Indian population and do not require too much technical expertise or elaborate infrastructure.

"With this vision, we are launching a multi-centre study with the support of DBT-BIRAC Grand Challenges India in collaboration with WHO's International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC)," Bhatla said.

The evaluation of tests with fewer HPV types is a novel aspect of this study that will improve the accuracy of the test and make it more cost-effective for the programme, she said.

"This landmark project will allow validation of Make in India HPV tests for cervical cancer screening by international quality standards and will benefit millions of women in India and other LMICs to get rid of the scourge of cervical cancer," said Dr M Srinivas, Director, AIIMS, Delhi.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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