University Health System Receives $2.86 Million for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Awareness

January 25, 2012

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women in the United States. In 2011, an estimated 1,219 Texas women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and 378 women died of the disease, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The best defense is early detection and, thanks to a grant totaling $2,861,547 from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), University Health System will have increased resources to screen, educate and protect more women in Bexar County.

In Texas, Hispanic women are twice as likely as non-Hispanic white women to have cervical cancer. Hispanic women are also more likely to be diagnosed later, when cancer is harder to cure. The earlier cervical cancer can be detected, the better the chances for survival. The $2.8 million CPRIT grant will enable the Health System to implement the A Su Salud Pap Test Program which aims to address barriers unique to Hispanic women in the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. The program’s goals are to:

  • Increase the cervical screening rate of women ages 18-64 in the CareLink Program to 75% by the end of 2012.
  • Reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality.
  • Increase HPV vaccination rates 5% to 20% among Bexar County women between the ages of nine and 26.

“By providing prevention services to uninsured and underinsured patients, we hope that screening and HPV vaccine uptake rates increase therefore decreasing the incidence of cervical cancer,” said Dr. Roberto Villarreal, Vice President of Community Initiatives and Translational Research at University Health System.“The screening services also allow for early detection of cervical cancer; therefore, a higher rate of treatment effectiveness for those who are diagnosed.”

The new grant will also allow the Health System to educate more women about cervical cancer and prevention. “Messages relayed through social media, public service announcements, patient reminders, and monthly newsletters will highlight the importance of the HPV vaccine and Pap test,” he explained.

This is the fifth CPRIT grant awarded to University Health System for cancer prevention. In the last two years, the Health System received a total of $1.6 million to establish a breast and cervical cancer education and outreach initiative, as well as a Colorectal Cancer Screening Male Navigation Program to provide resources to help increase colorectal cancer screening through a public awareness campaign and for a professional education training program.

Since CPRIT was established by the Texas Legislature in 2009, University Health System has received $4.5 million from the institute for cancer prevention programs and research. It is the only health system in San Antonio to receive CPRIT funding and has received more of these grant dollars than any public health system in Texas.

More information about CPRIT is available online at