The potential of RNA as a target for national screening of pre-cancer
Keywords:Preventive healthcare, public health, screening in Africa, screening of cervical pre-cancer, oncology
Whole national screening of pre-cancer is done only in some few countries, dominated by The Netherlands, Denmark, UK, Norway and Finland. These national screenings are done combining national cancer registry, national public health and national medical bodies or hospitals. Until some few years ago national screening was only done using morphological or visual methods or technology. Today a number of molecular methods have been implemented to serve these national screening programs. Based on all the discussions within this review, it is clear that the main driving engine and the cause of cervical pre-cancer and the main cause of invasive cervical cancer is the expression of E6 and E7 oncoproteins from HPV 16, 18, 31, 33 and 45. However, the main challenge is the role of morphology or imaging-based diagnosis in the original definition of pre-cancer disease. This definition is not based on the cause of cervical precancer but based on a complex, subjective, morphological observations. The difference between these two definitions are discussed in this review. The unique discovery done while validating the first standardized detection technology used against mRNA, confirmed that the presence of both abnormal E6 and/or E7 mRNA and protein is the cause of cervical pre-cancer or severe neoplasia and the main cause of invasive cervical cancer. This confirmation was evident even though all these studies were disturbed by the above defined biases from morphology or imaging-based diagnosis. The use of the screening target that cause stable and high expression of the most carcinogenic compounds ever discovered, must cause a more accurate screening program. A number of studies have proved that the detection of E6/E7 mRNA followed-up by indirect or direct treatment in a well-organized national screening program, would reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. This review discusses the main studies involved in the scientific, clinical evaluation and how this unique technology could be used as a new medical gold standard for national screening of cervical pre-cancer.