A woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, making it the third most common female cancer and the leading gynecological cancer in the world. Comprehensive control and prevention of this highly preventable cancer is a global public health priority.
Quick Facts about Cervical Cancer
- Women in developing countries are disproportionately affected, accounting for 85 percent of all cervical cancer cases globally.
- Roughly 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer are detected each year, and over 250,000 women die annually of this disease.
- Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable when women have access to screening and preventive therapy services to detect the disease at a pre-cancer stage when it is amenable to simple treatment and cure.
In countries that have introduced successful screening programs, cervical cancer has become a relatively rare disease.
Screening and treatment tools that can significantly reduce premature illness and death from cervical cancer are currently available. However they don’t reach most of the women living in the developing world. Many countries lack or have outdated policies and guidelines, need training for clinicians to adopt new technologies, and lack tertiary care for advanced cases.
Too often, women are not even aware of cervical cancer as a potential health risk. Even in places where services are available, women do not always seek them out due to lack of awareness around the importance of screening and the simplicity of treatment.
Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) is recognized by global health experts, including the World Health Organization, as an inexpensive and non-invasive method for screening women for cervical changes. One benefit of this method is that it can normally be performed in a low level health facility by a doctor, nurse or paramedical staff.
Women testing positive through VIA can receive treatment for pre-cancerous lesions using cryotherapy on the same day using a “screen and treat” approach. Cryotherapy is a highly cost-effective treatment and only requires a consistent supply of carbon dioxide or nitrogen gas, making it suitable for low-resource settings and affordable for providers in developing countries.
We aim to scale up effective cervical cancer screening and preventive therapy in countries and regions where the disease burden is greatest. We currently implement cervical cancer screening programs in Asia (Cambodia, India, Myanmar) and Africa (Benin, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).
Our Cervical Cancer Control and Prevention programs in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and India focus on detecting cervical screening using visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) followed by preventative treatment with cryotherapy.
- Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention, and Barriers to Uptake: A Review of the Evidence
This review explores cervical cancer screening methods and the barriers and facilitating factors to uptake of screening and treatment services in developing countries.
- Integrating Cervical Cancer Screening Within Family Planning Service Provision in Peri-Urban Zambian Setting
In Zambia, cervical cancer (CACX) screening was introduced in 2006. Since then over 189, 000 women have been screened for CACX. While incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer have fallen significantly in developed countries, 83% of all new cases that occur annually and 85% of all deaths from the disease occur in developing countries. Family planning (FP) services in Zambia have traditionally been offered routinely in maternal and child health (MCH) settings. The Society for Family Health (SFH) provides FP services using a dedicated provider model in high volume public sector health facilities since 2008. The model emphasises long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), while assuring method choice.
- HIV, NCDs and Women
This brief outlines the key points around the issue of HIV, NCDs and women, and looks into opportunities for learning and integration across HIV and NCD programs. It also discusses what needs to happen next in the fight to eradicate the HIV and NCDs epidemics.
- PSI Impact Calculator for Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment
- PSI Health Impact Estimation Model for Cervical Cancer Prevention: Screening and Referral/Treatment
PSI uses the disability-adjusted life year averted (DALY averted) to measure the impact of interventions in health areas. A statistical model has been developed for each of PSI’s product, service, and behavior change communication interventions. The model presented here is the Cervical Cancer Prevention health impact model.