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University of Iowa News Release


July 30, 2008

New UI technology to help better detect developing cervical cancers

Cancer specialists with Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa are among the first in the nation to have access to advanced technology that can enhance the detection of abnormalities in the cervix that may develop into cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the LUMA Cervical Imaging System for use in combination with standard colposcopy examinations. Physicians use colposcopy exams to look for abnormal areas in the cervix that have the potential to become cancerous.

Researchers found that the combination of colposcopy exams with LUMA enabled specialists to find 26 percent more cases of precancerous disease than colposcopy alone. UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is one of five other centers that are planning to install LUMA soon as part of a nationwide clinical study to gather more information on the effectiveness of the new technology and testing methods.

"I am very pleased that we are making this important new service available to women," said Colleen Kennedy, M.D., an assistant professor in the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "It is clear that this system will be extremely helpful in finding these abnormal cells earlier, which will in turn make our treatments more effective."

The UI clinical study is being financed with funds from the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Fund. The Pappajohn Fund has offered to pay for the LUMA cervical cancer screening for women regardless of their ability to pay.

John Pappajohn, a well-known Iowa venture capitalist, and his wife, Mary, are among the university's most generous supporters. The Pappajohn Business Building, which houses the UI's Tippie College of Business, is named for them. Their philanthropy for the UI's academic medical center also has led to the naming of the Pappajohn Pavilion at UI Hospitals and Clinics and the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center.

Because of the Pappajohns' active interest in more effective cervical cancer screening, John Pappajohn contributed to the development of the LUMA technology by becoming an investor in San Diego-based Spectra Science Inc., which makes the LUMA Cervical Imaging System.

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI is Iowa's only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers are recognized as the leaders in developing new approaches to cancer prevention and cancer care, conducting leading edge research and educating the public about cancer.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

More information about LUMA is available online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,