Researcher Spotlight on Conquer Cancer Foundation International Innovation Grant Recipient Mya Thida, MBBS

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Dr. Thida (fourth from right) and her team with their mobile cryotherapy unit.

Thanks to the Conquer Cancer Foundation, instead of just managing cervical cancer, we can prevent it and save more women and their families from immense suffering.

—Mya Thida, MBBS

In 2014, Mya Thida, MBBS, of Myanmar, was awarded one of the first-ever Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO International Innovation Grants. This grant was created to fund novel research projects that may significantly improve cancer control in low- and middle-income countries. One year later, Dr. Thida’s research is already having a powerful impact on the lives of women in her country.

After decades of isolation, Myanmar is still catching up in many critical areas, including access to modern health care. The majority of women in Myanmar forgo routine cervical cancer screenings that are widely available in more developed nations. In fact, this preventable, treatable disease is the second most common cancer affecting women in Myanmar.

Dr. Thida, Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Medicine 1, Yangon, knows all too well what life is like for women she treats with late-stage cervical cancer, who often aren’t seen until little can be done to save their lives. To change this, she created a breakthrough single-visit model for cervical cancer detection to serve rural villages, using visual screening and immediate cryotherapy provided in mobile units.

“We know it’s possible to prevent the suffering and death we see in our country from cervical cancer,” said Dr. Thida. “Now, as Myanmar is working to build health-care resources for everyone, this is the moment to create a sustainable, cost-effective program that can be shared wherever it’s needed.”

The essential seed funds from Dr. Thida’s grant enabled her to purchase a mobile cryotherapy unit and train a dozen local midwives. These assets helped provide cervical cancer screening to more than 1,370 women in Taikkyi Township and Gyophyu Village. Forty cases of cancer were treated with life-saving cryotherapy.

“Thanks to the Conquer Cancer Foundation, we have a starting point for cervical cancer screening in our country, and we are very grateful,” said Dr. Thida. “Instead of just managing cervical cancer, we can prevent it, and save more women and their families from immense suffering.”

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