NCI Funds Urban-Rural Cervical Cancer Screening Research

Jul. 8, 2020

A new University of Rochester Medical CenterDepartment of Emergency Medicine study aims to reduce the screening disparity for cervical cancer, a highly preventable disease, with a study conducted at UR Medicine emergency departments in urban and rural locations. 

The National Cancer Institute awarded $1.5 million to David Adler, M.D. M.P.H., for a randomized clinical trial at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, Livingston County.

The focus is on women, ages 21 to 65, who are not up to date on recommended cervical cancer screenings. Many of these individuals are women of color, Adler said, but not all. Rural white women, for example, also face challenges in accessing cancer screening services.

In the study, some women will be randomly placed in a group that receives motivational text messages, based on behavioral-change theory, as a way to urge them to get screened; others will receive a standard referral for screening. Researchers will then compare the two groups and identify whether the text messages are more effective than a routine referral.

Adler, a professor of Emergency Medicine, Public Health Sciences, and a Wilmot Cancer Institute investigator, said that emergency departments are an optimal environment to study disparities and reduce them. Researchers plan to enroll more than 1,400 women, who will be asked to consent to the taking part in the program.

“According to the CDC, the women most likely to have inadequate access to cervical cancer screening are those who use the emergency department as their source for usual medical care,” he said. “Our project aims to leverage this environment to identify women in need of screening and intervene to get them screened.”

The project represents a growing collaboration between Emergency Medicine Research and Wilmot, which draws patients from a 27-county region in western New York.

“Dr. Adler’s research fits perfectly with our institutional priorities to address cancer disparities, improve the lives of people across our region, and to prevent cancer where the need is the greatest. Moreover, the diversity of the individuals seen in the emergency department further enhances the impact of the study to address cancer disparities,” said Paula Cupertino, Ph.D., professor of Public Health Sciences and Oncology who joined the University of Rochester Medical Center in March. She leads Wilmot’s Community Outreach, Engagement and Disparities program.

In the future, Adler and his team plan to conduct similar studies to improve screening rates for colorectal, breast, and lung cancer.

Co-investigators are Beau Abar, Ph.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine; Nancy Wood, M.P.A., M.S., project manager, Emergency Medicine; Karen Mustian, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-leader of Wilmot’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program; Supriya Mohile, M.D., co-leader of Wilmot’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program; Adrienne Bonham, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Kevin Fiscella, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Family Medicine; and Sydney Chamberlin, M.D., senior instructor in Emergency Medicine.