December 18, 2023

Professor Diane Harper, MD, MPH, MS, receives American Cancer Society Grant

Her project will help determine the feasibility of cervical cancer self-screening tests among women with disabilities who are Black or Native American.

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See the original story on Michigan Medicine's Rogel Cancer Center website here.

Diane M. Harper, MD, MPH, MS, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, has received a $792,000 Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society for a project to study cervical cancer screening intersectionally among women who are Black or Native American and who have a physical disability.

“More than 94% of women with physical disabilities have had sexual activity with a partner in their lifetime, yet they are half as likely to have cervical cancer screening as women who do not have a disability. With this project, we hope to bring newer at-home screening options to women with physical disabilities,” Harper said.

The project will include assembling a dataset using Medicare and Medicaid data to understand cervical cancer screening among women with physical disabilities. From there, researchers will determine the feasibility of self-screening tests among women with disabilities who are Black or Native American, groups who are both more likely to have a physical disability and more likely to develop cervical cancer.

With the knowledge that the human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes cervical cancer, screening has moved from invasive Pap tests to HPV testing. This allows for self-screening kits using vaginal swabs or urine collection. Harper’s previous research has shown women with physical disabilities were more likely to screen for cervical cancer when they could do it themselves with their chosen kit.

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