According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States. Regular screenings, or pap smears, have resulted in a significant decline in cases and deaths over the past 40 years because the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is directly linked to cervical cancer, can be detected during regular screenings. However, there has been a significant decline in screenings, particularly among African American women, during the COVID-19 Pandemic due to pandemic-related restrictions. Screenings are an effective way to prevent cervical cancer but there are several barriers to care that result in missed screenings.
A pilot study involving direct text messaging with a link to schedule a screening showed positive results. The study generated a 20 percent increase in cervical screenings, which resulted in a $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct the trial on a larger scale. Ultimately, the study could lead to a wide-scale intervention that increases screenings and prevents several cases of cervical cancer in priority populations.