A recently published study led by Professor Timothy Dye, Ph.D. of the Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, revealed that despite low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) registering millions of new cases of breast and cervical cancer every year, most of today’s research continues to be conducted in wealthier, more equipped countries. This is based on a review of existing studies reported September 1 by the CDC’s Global and Territorial Health Research Network.
According to Dye’s study, this disparity can ultimately mean none of these diseases have been understood as much as many would believe them to be, as patients’ geography, culture and traditional medicine can play major roles in studying disease. Protocols to address these diseases were written with wealthier countries in mind, rendering these guidelines and publications inapplicable in countries where they are needed the most.
“We’re talking about many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia, Southeast Asia – in other words, most of the world,” said Timothy Dye, Ph.D., professor and associate chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, and principal investigator of the CDC’s Global and Territorial Health Research Network Coordinating Center. Dye is the corresponding author of the review, published in PLoSOne, a peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the Public Library of Science.
“We’re arguing for more research to be done in low- and middle-income countries so prevention and treatment strategies there can be more evidence-based,” Dye said. “Better research on breast and cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries would help develop more effective prevention programs as well.”
In the past few years, many efforts have been made to expand patient access to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in LMICs, fostering the importance of preventive cancer care. However, efforts to prevent or detect breast cancer early on have not been documented. For both cervical and breast cancer, implementation science, or the study of how health interventions apply to real-world pubic health situations, remains lacking in LMICs.
“With women’s cancers continually emerging as a major contributor toward morbidity and mortality around the world, failing to address their prevention and control with research generated by and for low- and middle-income settings could lead to inappropriate recommendations based on research generated in high-income settings,” said Dye.
“The best hope for improving cancer control in low- and middle–income countries is to make sure that what we think works toward prevention and control, actually works in the settings and circumstances faced around the world,” Dye added.