The ASC emphasizes public education and awareness of early cancer detection practices, especially cervical cancer. The ASC Foundation funds projects that focus primarily on patient education and effective screening programs. 

My Sister’s Keeper Initiative

Christina Pierre, PhD., Ashley Volaric, MD., Sara Zadeh, MD.
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

On April 13, 2019, My Sister’s Keeper Initiative (MSK) hosted a “Pap Party” for the second year in a row with funding provided by the American Society of Cytopathology Foundation Patient Advocacy Grant. My Sister’s Keeper (MSK) Initiative is a registered non-profit organization based in the twin-island republic of Trinidad & Tobago (T&T). The group consists of various early-career laboratory professionals in both T&T and the US, including pathology trainees, cytotechnologists and medical lab scientists. MSK seeks to spread awareness about cervical cancer and to encourage women to take a proactive stance towards cervical cancer prevention.

In spite of the availability of no cost cervical screening and HPV vaccination through the public healthcare sector, T&T has the second highest cervical cancer mortality to incidence ratio in the Caribbean. Low uptake of the HPV vaccine and poor screening compliance have been identified as contributing factors to the high mortality to incidence ratio of cervical cancer in T&T, highlighting the importance of education and awareness around early detection and prevention.

Most people react incredulously when they hear the phrase “Pap Party.” The idea of pairing festivity with what many consider an extremely invasive screening examination understandably evokes skepticism. MSK has successfully utilized this seemingly unusual pairing to recruit women to be screened for cervical cancer and vaccinated against HPV. The Pap Party takes the format of a female-focused health and education fair, mixed in with a little fun and festivity. This format was chosen in an effort to create an environment of comfort and openness where women could obtain free screening and HPV vaccination. Donations from local businesses and service providers enable free giveaways that serve as small incentives for women to attend the event.

198 Pap smears were performed and 76 first doses of the Gardasil quadrivalent vaccine were administered at the one-day event. Additionally, 158 lipid and fasting blood glucose tests were performed. The Directorate of Women’s Health in the T&T Ministry of Health endorsed the Pap Party and was present to administer the HPV vaccination. They also provided information to attendees on cervical cancer prevention services offered through local healthcare centers and options for no-cost services for follow-up of abnormal Pap smear results.

MSK is sincerely grateful to the American Society of Cytopathology Foundation for your support of the 2019 Pap Party through the Patient Advocacy Grant. The Pap Party was a success largely in part due to the generosity of your Foundation and its donors. We pledge to continue working avidly towards expanding our cervical cancer prevention efforts both in T&T and other countries.