On December 7th the Department of Pathology at Sidra Medical and Research Center hosted an important event to mark a century of progress in gynecological cytopathology and to chart the future of this vital field in Qatar and beyond. The symposium, called The 1st Century of Gynecological Cytopathology: The Pap Test – Then, Now and the Future, was attended by over 150 participants from across the healthcare sector in Qatar.
The overall aim of the symposium was to showcase the research and scientific work that ultimately led to the creation and implementation of the Pap test, and to emphasize the potential effectiveness of a structured screening program for cervical cancer in Qatar.
The organizers and lecturers of this symposium included Dr. Adrian Charles and Nikolaos Chantziantoniou from the Cytopathology Service at Sidra, along with distinguished lecturers: Dr. R. Marshall Austin (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), Dr. Hanan Farghaly (Hamad Medical Corporation), and Dr. Jeremie Tabrizi (Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar).
Developed by Dr. George N. Papanicolaou and his coworkers at Cornell Medical College, New York, starting in November 1914, the Pap test was formalized and put into clinical practice in 1954 supported by the American Cancer Society. The Pap test is a non-invasive screening tool to detect abnormal cells present in the uterine cervix that, if left untreated, may lead to cervical cancer. Early detection of these abnormal cells allows for effective patient treatment, management and, often, a cure. Introduction of the Pap test in structured screening programs in the early 1960s has proven remarkably successful, leading to a greater than 70% reduction in both the mortality and incidence of cervical cancer in those regions.
Nevertheless, cervical cancer remains a major burden to women’s health worldwide, and particularly in developing regions where screening programs are either inadequate or non-existent. Without intervention, it is projected that 530,000 additional annual cases of cervical cancer, and a near 25% increase in the next 10 years. The majority of these cases (88%) are expected to occur primarily in regions where less than 5% of women have access to screening, for even once in their lifetime.
“Cervical cancer remains a preventable disease if identified through screening. And, with available and proven vaccines effective against the virus that causes cervical cancer, the human papilloma virus (HPV), the disease can be overcome with a well-managed preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic program. Sidra, along with its partnering institutions, will play a leading role in developing the needed foundations upon which to establish a universal screening program for cervical cancer in Qatar,” said Sidra’s Nikolaos Chantziantoniou.
The 1st Century of Gynecological Cytopathology: The Pap Test – Then, Now and the Future was the latest in a series of symposia hosted by Sidra to raise awareness of key health issues affecting women and children.