News / USA

Doctor Fights Cervical Cancer in Developing Countries

Kay Taylor's nonprofit screens women for HPV

Women in Kapenguria, Kenya, wait to be screened during a 'Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer' training campaign.
Women in Kapenguria, Kenya, wait to be screened during a 'Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer' training campaign.

Multimedia

Audio

Cervical cancer is the second deadliest cancer - after breast cancer - among women in developing countries. Eight hundred women die of cervical cancer every day, nearly 300,000 each year worldwide.

California gynecologist Kay Taylor is out to change those numbers. She's already saved thousands of women in Latin America, Africa and India.

Six years ago, Taylor gave up a successful medical practice in the San Francisco Bay Area to start the non-profit organization Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer. PINCC, pronounced “pink,” operates out of Taylor’s house in Oakland, California.

The bedrooms have been converted to office space and her living room is overflowing with medical supplies and equipment.

Dr. Kay Taylor gave up a successful California medical practice to fight against cervical cancer in developing countries.
Dr. Kay Taylor gave up a successful California medical practice to fight against cervical cancer in developing countries.

Screening women

Taylor is getting ready for her next visit to Africa, where she and a medical team will visit rural villages in Uganda and Kenya to screen hundreds of women for the human papilloma virus. HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease, has been linked to the development of cervical cancer.

Taylor first realized the magnitude of the problem during a visit to assist abused women in Honduras in 2003.

“I found three cases of cervical cancer in that two-week visit. I’d seen three cases of cervical cancer in my 25-year practice, so I was stunned," she says. "And I started to do some research and discovered that it is so high in these countries, just as if they hadn’t invented the Pap smear, which is what we use to control it here.”

By examining cells from a woman's cervix on a Pap smear, HPV infections can be quickly identified and treated. But for most poor women in developing countries, these exams are often inaccessible and unaffordable. Taylor was determined to find a cost-effective way to bring free medical care to these women.

See and treat

“I remember sitting in my office doing a screening for the abnormal cells and treating this woman and thinking, 'You know, I could put all this equipment in a suitcase and I could take it there and teach doctors and nurses to do this new method that had just been discovered and proven and which allows us to see and treat the condition in one visit.' And that was sort of my 'aha' moment. This wonderful method has now been discovered. It can be used in these countries and taught and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Why not go there and teach it?”

On a visit to Kenya two years ago, Taylor taught local doctors and nurses the so-called ‘see and treat’ technique - screening a woman for HPV, doing a biopsy, and removing cancerous cells - in a single visit to the clinic.

Dr. Art Levit, (left) a PINCC volunteer, supervises doctors during an examination in Jalapa, Nicaragua.
Dr. Art Levit, (left) a PINCC volunteer, supervises doctors during an examination in Jalapa, Nicaragua.

“We go to give training and equipment and establish a sustainable program that will continue to give this service after we’re gone. You can’t learn this in a few days. I didn’t learn it in a few days," she says. "I learned it in a few years as a gynecologist-resident. So it takes time and experience and proctoring. We go back every six months until the groups are well trained, confident and competent.”

Expanding the program

Nurse practitioner Cheryl Brown is getting final instructions from PINCC staff before leaving for Uganda with Taylor. Like most team members, Brown is a volunteer, who has paid her own way to Latin America for medical site visits. This will be her third trip with PINCC and her first to Africa.

“Many of us, as volunteers, are returnees," Brown says. "It’s so inspirational to be able to see how effective the technique is and how enthusiastic the trainees are about learning the technique and then employing it themselves when we’re not there.”

Since its first visit to Honduras in 2005, PINCC has expanded its program to seven countries. Taylor and her teams have set up 30 medical sites which screen and treat thousands of women annually.

Six more sites will open in 2012. PINCC volunteers now travel six times a year - to Africa, Latin America, and India - treating an average of 2,500 women per visit.

Taylor estimates that, overall, PINCC has touched the lives of 50,000 women, yet she feels the need to do more.

“That’s what happens every time I go on one of these trips. I get tired and so on. I’m no youngster. I’m 68 almost," she says. "But every time I go, it stimulates me to want to keep going and come back and open new programs because I see these women whose lives are saved. They could have died if it weren’t for us.”

Cervical cancer is still far from being conquered. Taylor notes that vaccines are being developed and may become available - and affordable - in 25 years.

And she has another goal where the disease is concerned; she hopes she'll be around to see cervical cancer wiped out for good.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

UN Tackles Illicit Wildlife Poaching Amid Cecil the Lion Uproar

The 193-member General Assembly adopts its first resolution on the issue following a two-year campaign by Germany and Gabon More

Trump Tops Poll as Rivals Battle to Make Debate

Donald Trump jumps into a big lead in Republican presidential race, according to latest poll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs