Cancer Screening

Congratulations to College of Medicine student Jean Pannikottu, Class of 2019, who received the Best Student Abstract Award from the Lown Institute for her work exploring the topic of cancer screening overuse. The honor was announced at the Brookline, Massachusetts-based institute’s national research symposium in Boston this spring.

During the summer of 2016, Pannikottu was part of the Medical Student Training in Aging Research program administered by American Federation for Aging Research and National Institute on Aging. Under the guidance of Jodi Segal, M.D., at Johns Hopkins University, the Akron native researched factors that contribute to the overuse of cancer screening.

By combing through articles published on the topic between 1998 and 2016, Pannikottu and her colleagues discovered that “abundant access” to primary care drove overuse of breast cancer screening. In the case of cervical cancer screening, one of the multiple factors in overuse was a lack of physician awareness and agreement regarding the clinical guidelines.

“This was a fascinating topic to me because it is something that affects so many patients, of all demographics,” Pannikottu said. “Understanding the drivers of unnecessary screening is a critical step in making more informed interventions to lessen overuse—making sure that patients do not undergo unnecessary mental, physical, and financial harm.’’

The mission of the Lown Institute is “to catalyze a grassroots movement for transforming health care systems and improving the health of communities.”

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