IGCS Expands Global Cervical Cancer Care Through Mentorship and Training Program

March 23, 2021
Skylar Kenney, Assistant Editor

The IGCS Mentorship and Training Program seeks to provide training and education to regions without formal training programs in gynecologic oncology.

The International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) has worked to bring cervical cancer screenings and care to 12 countries in which formal training in gynecologic oncology is rare or non-existent. In a presentation on the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Initiative for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control from members of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and IGCS at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology 2021 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, the panelists discussed the achievements of the mentorship program and the challenges faced.

The IGCS Mentorship and Training Program seeks to provide training and education to regions without formal training programs in gynecologic oncology. A 2-year, web-based curriculum, the program has had 13 graduates between 2019 and 2021, and currently has 28 fellows-in-training across its 12 fellowships.

“Now I have the possibility to transfer my own knowledge to other residents, to other colleagues, because I have now become part of a program that has been able to deliver, in a low resource setting, their higher quality of surgery and higher quality of attending persons at our own clinic,” said Dr. Erick Estrada, a 2021 graduate of the IGCS program. “I have been able to participate in my own research. I have been able to publish in an international journal, something I never thought I could do.”

This program is created in response to the international cervical cancer goals for 2030 set by the WHO. These include having 90% of eligible girls vaccinated, 70% of women screened at least once in their lifetime with a high-performance screen, 90% of women found to have pre-cancer or cancer treated effectively and in a timely manner, and a 30% reduction in deaths from cervical cancer.

The IGCS also conducted a survey of the countries that endorsed the WHO initiative using national-level data collection. Common challenges noted in the survey included access to health care, availability of specialists, availability of radiology and radiation oncology machines, availability of palliative and hospice care, and availability of chemotherapy and palliative medications.

“What I have learned personally from this program is that people may not have resources, but if they have willpower, and the determination and goodwill, I think it is possible to do such high-standard work,” said Dr. Asima Mukhopadhyay, one of the program’s international mentors in India.

In response to the issues encountered while running the Mentorship and Training Program, IGCS also runs a mentoring program for local pathologists in response to a shortage of pathologists across the globe and a pre-invasive program for IGCS fellows in order to increase the number of screening programs available in low- and middle-income countries.

REFERENCE

Edward Trimble, Warner Huh, Diane Yamada, et al. The WHO Global Initiative for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control. Presented at: SGO 2021 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer; March 20, 2021; Virtual.