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STRIDES: Studying Risk and Improving Disparities of Cervical Cancer in Mississippi


The STRIDES Study (STudying Risk to Improve DisparitiES of cervical cancer in Mississippi) is a collaborative, team-science effort involving clinicians, laboratory scientists, epidemiologists, and implementation scientists to address all aspects of cervical cancer prevention and control in Mississippi. 

STRIDES is a Cancer Moonshot priority and a unique opportunity for the NCI to join forces with multiple partners in Mississippi to address these challenges and work towards reducing cervical cancer mortality.

Study Team

photograph of a group of people standing outside

Left to right: Jimmie Wells, Nicolas Wentzensen, Megan Clarke, Mary Stewart, Tina Ferrell, Katie Hall, and Sydney Reaves 

Megan Clarke, Ph.D., M.H.S., principal investigator and Earl Stadtman investigator, Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB)

Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator, CGB, head, Clinical Epidemiology Unit

Collaborators at the University of Mississippi Medical Center

Dr. Carolann Risley, principal investigator
Dr. Lei Zhang
Ms. Jimmie Wells
Dr. Mary Stewart
Dr. Katie Hall
Dr. Tina Ferrell
Ms. Sydney Reaves

Background & Purpose

Over 500,000 cervical cancers occur every year worldwide, with a disproportionate burden affecting low-resource settings. NCI has a focused research program to understand the etiology of cervical cancer and to accelerate global cervical cancer control. We now understand cervical cancer etiology very well and there are multiple tools available to develop successful screening and management programs.

Despite the widespread availability of cervical cancer screening and management programs in the U.S., over 13,000 women are diagnosed with this malignancy and over 4,000 die from their cancer in the U.S. every year. Mississippi is among the top five states in the nation for cervical cancer incidence and mortality, making the state a critical setting for NCI’s cervical cancer prevention and control efforts.

Reasons for these disproportionately high rates are likely multi-factorial, including:

  • lack of access to cervical cancer screening,
  • delayed or loss-to diagnostic follow-up and treatment,
  • disparities related to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and access to care.

Study Design

STRIDES is a diverse, statewide cohort study of individuals undergoing cervical cancer screening with cytology and HPV co-testing in the state of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center or the Mississippi State Department of Health  (MSDH).

The population is approximately 25% White, and 60% Black/African American, with the remainder mixed race or other. Approximately 80% of MSDH clinics are located in rural areas, and cervical cancer screening services are covered by public funding at MSDH clinics. Currently, STRIDES includes data from over 44,000 individuals, with 61,422 cytology samples collected to date.

Select Findings & Publications

Clarke ME et al. Age-specific prevalence of human papillomavirus and abnormal cytology at baseline in a diverse statewide prospective cohort of individuals undergoing cervical cancer screening in Mississippi. Cancer Med. 2021.

Risley C et al. STRIDES - STudying Risk to Improve DisparitiES in Cervical Cancer in Mississippi - Design and baseline results of a Statewide Cohort Study. Prev Med. 2021

Risley C et al. Racial differences in HPV type 16 prevalence in women with ASCUS of the uterine cervix. Cancer Cytopathol. 2021.


For more information, contact Megan Clarke, Ph.D., M.H.S.

Clinical Epidemiology Unit - Research Areas