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11 June 2024
Cervical cancer

Professor Lynette Ann Denny (30 January 1958–9 June 2024)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is deeply saddened by the passing of Professor Lynette Denny, who died on 9 June 2024 at age 66 years.

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Professor Denny was a luminary who worked untiringly towards saving women’s lives by preventing cancer. She leaves behind a legacy through her work and through her life of fighting for social justice and equity. As the former Chair and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town (South Africa), her contributions to the field of cervical cancer prevention were profound and far-reaching.

Throughout her illustrious career, which spanned decades, Professor Denny dedicated herself tirelessly to the prevention of cervical cancer, particularly in low-resource settings. Her research, which spanned more than 25 years, resulted in the generation of valuable evidence to support some groundbreaking concepts, like “screen and treat”, and shaped the understanding and practice of cervical cancer screening across the globe.

Professor Denny held prestigious positions, including serving as President of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society and Chair of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Gynecologic Oncology Committee, solidifying her status as a leader in her field. Recognized for her outstanding contributions, Professor Denny was honoured with the South African Medical Association Award for Extraordinary Service to Medicine in 2012, and was bestowed a Fellowship ad eudeum of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (United Kingdom) in the same year. Her remarkable achievements were further acknowledged on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of IARC, where she was awarded the IARC Medal of Honour for her groundbreaking work in cervical cancer prevention.

In her home country of South Africa, Professor Denny’s impact was indelible. She was honoured with the Order of the Baobab (Silver) by the President of South Africa in November 2021, and in 2022 she received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Beyond her professional accolades, Professor Denny – affectionately known as Lyn – was revered for her warmth, kindness, and unwavering dedication to improving women’s access to equitable health, justice, and equity. Her passing leaves a void in the medical community that will be deeply felt, but her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of researchers, practitioners, and advocates in the fight against cervical cancer.

Professor Denny is survived by her loving family, her colleagues, and the countless people whose lives she touched throughout her remarkable career. Her memory will live on as a beacon of hope as the world jointly strives towards the elimination of cervical cancer, a disease that particularly affects low-income women.

IARC extends its heartfelt condolences to Professor Denny’s family and friends.

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Published in section: IARC News

Publication date: 11 June, 2024, 14:47

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