A woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, making it the fourth most common female cancer and the leading gynecological cancer in the world. In countries where HIV rates are high, it is often the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Comprehensive control and prevention of this highly preventable cancer is a global public health priority.
Quick Facts about Cervical Cancer
- Roughly 525,000 new cases of cervical cancer are detected each year, and over 265,000 women die annually of this disease. Women in developing countries account for roughly 87% of all cervical cancer cases, globally.
- The majority of cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with certain high-risk strains of the human papilloma virus, or HPV. Cervical cancer is largely preventable when effective vaccine and screening programs are in place.
- Women living with HIV are at higher risk for developing cervical cancer and should be considered a priority population for cervical cancer screening.
Effective tools that can significantly reduce premature illness and death from cervical cancer – vaccination, screening and preventive treatment – exist; however, they are not yet reaching enough girls and women living in the developing world, where screening and vaccine coverage remain very low. Many countries lack or have outdated policies and guidelines, need training for clinicians to adopt new technologies, and lack tertiary care for advanced cases.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.
There are several screening method options for cervical cancer. These include pap smear (cytology), visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), and molecular testing to detect HPV (RNA or DNA). The majority of PSI programs use VIA as a primary screening test. Women found with pre-cancer lesions are offered immediate treatment using a technique called cryotherapy (known as screen and treat), when available, or referred through our networks for treatment.
Traditional 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 prevention programs in countries and regions where the disease burden is greatest. PSI currently implements cervical cancer screening programs in Africa (Benin, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and Asia (Cambodia, India, Myanmar).
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.
- Non-Communicable Disease Life Course Pocket Cards
At the 61st session of the UN"s Commission on the Status of Women, PSI and its partners on the Women and NCDs Task Force promoted a set of pocket cards illustrating a woman's risk for non-communicable diseases over the course of her lifetime.
- 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.