Cervical cancer screening programs in low-income communities. Experiences from Ecuador. Low cost detection of HPV infection in a developing country

G. Cecchini, G. Paganini, M. D'Amico, M. Cannone, C. Bertuletti, Massimo C P Barberis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives. With the support of the independent humanitarian organization "Amici Fundation Terra Nueva" in Quito, Ecuador, we evaluated the feasibility of a cytologic screening program sustained by volunteers on the field and in Italy. Methods. 250 women underwent a cervical Pap-test. The women with a positive Pap-smear were re-called for visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), whereas those with a negative smear were invited for a new Pap-test after 3 years. To obtain samples for molecular assays, cytologic material was removed from slides, submitted to DNA extraction and amplified by nested PCR of the L1 region of HPV DNA. PCR-positive samples were sequenced. Results. Six (2.6%) samples showed squamous intra-epithelial lesions (SILs): 4 low grade and 2 high grade SILs were present in women more than 40 years old. The overall rate of successful DNA recovery on a per-slide basis was 96.5%. High grade SILs were characterized by HPV 16 and 18 co-infection. HPV 16 was detected in one low grade SIL. HPV-DNA was detected in 11 smears (4.95%): in all 6 SILS and in 5 of the 216 negative smears. Conclusion. Independent humanitarian organizations could play a role in supporting national screening programs offering skilled field professionals and technical support by scientists operating in their countries. Our molecular technique has the potential to provide important epidemiological information in many resource-poor areas of developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-79
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009



  • Archive smear
  • Ecuador
  • HPV screening
  • PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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