Real Talk Blog

It’s Time for a New Way to Screen for Cervical Cancer

Key Takeaways:

  • Early cervical cancer detection is critical for women to stay healthy, yet 1 in 4 women are not up-to-date on their screening
  • The speculum is an uncomfortable experience. We’ve designed the Teal self-collect Wand with input from a diverse set of women to increase confidence and comfort in the collection for primary HPV.
  • Self-collect initiatives have been shown to increase screening by over 2x. In our pilot study, 94% of women would prefer the Teal WandTM and 87% said they would be more likely to get screened if they had the Teal self-collection option.
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I am so proud and excited to introduce Teal Health. We’re an ambitious and passionate team that is boldly creating the future of healthcare that women deserve – starting with at-home cervical cancer screenings. We’re launching with the support and shared vision of our amazing early investors which include Emerson Collective, Felicis Ventures, Metrodora, and Serena Ventures, among other awesome firms and individuals.  We feel so lucky and energized to be working to eradicate cervical cancer.

Early cervical cancer detection is critical for women to stay healthy, if caught early, 92% of cervical cancers are preventable, but in contrast a late-stage diagnosis has an approximate 5-year survival rate of only 18%. Cervical cancer screening, often referred to as a Pap smear, is a critical piece of women’s health, yet it is currently a universally disliked experience. If you are a woman who has experienced a speculum exam – you know what I am talking about. The current experience poses a lot of very real barriers and as a result, in 2019, 23% of women were overdue for their cervical cancer screening. This has only gotten worse during the pandemic, as there was a 94% decline in cervical cancer screenings in 2020. While screening engagement has slowly recovered, still 1 in 4 women are behind on their cervical cancer screenings today. When you look deeper at these numbers, you’ll see the vast disparity in screening rates within different communities – Black women are 50% less likely, and Asian women are 30% less likely to be screened than white women in the US. On the flip side of that, self-collect initiatives have been shown to increase screening by over 2x, and in our pilot study, 94% would prefer the WandTM to a clinic-based exam and 87% of women said they would be more likely to get screened if they had the Teal self-collection option.

Whether you are someone who gets screened regularly or has been deterred from screening because of the current process: It’s time for a new way to screen for cervical cancer – a way that takes into account a woman’s experience and makes it as comfortable, convenient, and compassionate as possible.

Comfortable: Let’s be honest. The speculum is an uncomfortable experience whether because of pain or the vulnerable position. Self-collection is far more comfortable than clinician collection. Instead of using a speculum, the self-collect experience is similar to inserting a tampon.  We’ve designed the Teal Wand with input from a diverse set of women to increase confidence and comfort in the cervical cancer screening process. In our pilot study, 98% were able to use the Teal WandTM correctly, 97% found the instructions easy to follow and completed their self-collection in under 5 minutes (mostly under 2 minutes), and 92% of women found the device to be somewhat or very comfortable.

Convenient: Women are busy, very, very, very busy.  We want to stay healthy, but something has to give as there never seems to be enough time in the day.  Teal understands that most women work, in or out of the house, and a lot of women have kids or are primary caregivers. So we will meet you where you are, when it’s convenient for you, by offering support and appointments after hours.  You’ll never need to go further than your mailbox to stay up to date on this critical screening.  Simply order a test to be sent to your house from your phone or computer. Collect your sample in the privacy of your own home and send the kit back. The collection itself takes less than 5 minutes. You will learn more about your results and next steps by booking a telehealth appointment with a member of our medical team at a time that works for you.

Compassionate: While HPV is nothing to be ashamed of, it is something to be aware of. Nearly all sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their life. It’s just important to get screened so that you can ensure it doesn’t become cervical cancer. We understand that cancer screenings can be scary. There is always the wonder of “What if I have it?” But remember, 92% of cervical cancers are preventable, and that’s our goal – to help you prevent it.  Our team is empathetic and supportive and our medical team has deep experience. We will ensure you understand your results and next steps, so that you can stay healthy.

We’re doing something really big here – it’s important because it’s cancer, but it’s also important because women haven’t had their healthcare designed for them. This at-home cervical cancer screening is the first step in welcoming women into a new healthcare experience that is more equitable, accessible, and empowering.

Welcome to Teal Health, we’re so happy to be here.

Kara Egan
CEO & Co-Founder

As a CEO and mother of two, caring for an aging parent with dementia, Kara is driven to create solutions that value a woman’s time. She leads a passionate team at Teal Health, on a mission to develop a more equitable and accessible future for women’s healthcare, starting with cervical cancer screening. Kara has spent her career at the intersection of healthcare and technology, as a health tech investor (.406 Ventures), a software investor (Emergence Capital), and an operator at tech companies (Zendesk). She earned her BS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, her MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Kauffman Fellow.

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