While cervical cancer rates have decreased dramatically over the past 60 years since the introduction of screening (Pap test) and screening methods have been enhanced with the introduction of liquid-based collection and HPV testing, cervical cancer in South Carolina results in a significant burden for far too many women and their families and loved ones. Far too many of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and women whom we love suffer unnecessarily from cervical cancer. South Carolina ranks 14th in cervical cancer incidence and 14th in cervical cancer mortality in the United States. Disparities are evident by racial and ethnic groups with almost three African-American women dying of cervical cancer compared to one White woman. Cervical cancer is a disease that is almost entirely preventable through timely screening, follow-up care, and HPV vaccination. The role of HPV in the development of cervical cancer has been proven, and HPV is associated with other anogenital and head and neck cancers affecting both men and women. HPV vaccination is recommended for both males and females. This means that men are an important constituency in cervical cancer prevention and control. Despite South Carolina’s current ranking, we have made progress in reducing the number of women (and families) affected by cervical cancer with the help of many committed stakeholders. As a partner of Cervical Cancer-Free America, Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina provides us with an opportunity to take our efforts to the next level and continue making progress and save lives.
The South Carolina Cancer Alliance serves as the home organization for Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the impact of cancer on ALL people in South Carolina (www.sccanceralliance.org); membership is free. The Cervical Cancer Subcommittee within the South Carolina Cancer Alliance provides support for Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina activities with a focus on addressing cervical cancer objectives in the South Carolina Cancer Control Plan 2011-2015. Consistent with the state cancer plan, our efforts will focus on increasing participation in cervical cancer screening (including HPV testing); increasing adherence to follow-up care of abnormal screening results; increasing rates of HPV vaccination; and seeking additional funding to support cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.
Legislation is timely and critical to reverse the trend of decreased initiation and completion of the HPV vaccine series in South Carolina and will be one of the focus areas of Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina. Recent NIS-TEEN data (2011) show decreases in HPV vaccine initiation and completion and low overall uptake among 13-17 year olds in South Carolina. In order to address gaps in HPV vaccination, parents (caregivers), providers, partners (like schools, community groups, youth serving organizations), and policy are key to increasing initiation and completion of the HPV vaccination series among young people in South Carolina.
We launched a cervical cancer social media campaign in January 2013 to promote awareness as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. We are in the early stages of initiating this effort in South Carolina and planning an initial teleconference in April 2013. Additional teleconferences will be held leading up to an in-person meeting in September 2013, which is Reproductive Cancer Awareness Month, and full-scale launch of Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina in January 2014.
We hope that you will be a part of the Cervical Cancer Subcommittee and Cervical Cancer-Free South Carolina.
If you are already a member of the Cervical Cancer Subcommittee, please email CervicalCancerFreeSC@gmail.com to confirm your continued participation.
If you want to join the Cervical Cancer Subcommittee, please email CervicalCancerFreeSC@gmail.com. Please sign up to receive information about our efforts. In addition, please join the South Carolina Cancer Alliance. It is free and can be done online at http://sccanceralliance.org/.
We look forward to working together!
Jennifer Young Pierce, MD, MPH
Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce is an Assistant Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina and has been on the faculty at MUSC for four years. She was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina and went to medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She completed her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital Integrated Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology which is associated with Harvard Medical School, and completed her fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Virginia (UVA). While in residency and fellowship, she developed an active interest in cervical cancer treatment and prevention. She completed her Masters in Public Health while at UVA, and as part of this degree, conducted research with the Joint Commission on Health Care for the Virginia General Assembly on HPV vaccination in Virginia. In addition to these efforts, Dr. Pierce led a team conducting the first use of the rapid HPV test for cervical cancer screening in Africa. After completing her fellowship, Dr. Pierce returned to South Carolina where she continues to conduct collaborative research to advance knowledge in cervical cancer screening and treatment through translational research, clinical trials, and public health based research techniques. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Gynecologic Oncology. She also serves on the Immunology Committee for the Gynecologic Cancer Group and was recently named a Research All-Star by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Most importantly, Dr. Pierce is deeply committed to the care of women with gynecologic cancers and spends the majority of her time seeing patients and performing radical surgeries for cancer treatment. Dr. Pierce lives with her husband and daughter in Charleston.
Heather Brandt, PhD, CHES
Dr. Heather Brandt is a faculty member in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior and core faculty in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (USC). She is also a faculty affiliate in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at USC. She is a social and behavioral scientist whose research interests focus on cancer disparities in cancer prevention and control, HPV-associated cancers (especially cervical cancer), colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Her approach to research utilizes community-engaged and community-based participatory research approaches. Since 1997, Dr. Brandt has conducted cancer educational programs and research in South Carolina in partnership with other researchers and community partners. She is dedicated to examining, describing, and intervening upon cancer disparities by using innovative approaches in partnership with the community to develop and implement community solutions to community problems to improve health. Currently, Dr. Brandt leads and serves as a team member on several community-based cancer prevention and control research projects working with interdisciplinary research teams and community partners. This research addresses cancer disparities in underserved communities across the state. She also holds leadership positions in national and state organizations, including the American Public Health Association, American Cancer Society, South Carolina Cancer Alliance, and South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families.