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  • Writer's pictureVoraka Magazine



Article Published on 09 March 2024 by Kelley Rose | 

cervical cancer

Cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, poses a significant health challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In 2022, approximately 660,000 new cases were reported, with 94% of the 350,000 cervical cancer-related deaths occurring in these regions. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and South-East Asia face the highest rates of incidence and mortality, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address this health disparity.

Human papillomavirus (HPV), a prevalent sexually transmitted infection, plays a crucial role in cervical cancer development. Persistent infection with high-risk HPV types can lead to abnormal cell growth, ultimately resulting in cancer. Various factors, including HIV prevalence, socio-economic determinants, and inequalities in access to healthcare, contribute to regional disparities in cervical cancer burden.

To combat cervical cancer effectively, public awareness, information dissemination, and improved access to services are paramount. Key prevention strategies include HPV vaccination, screening, and early detection.

HPV Vaccination:

  • Administering HPV vaccines to girls aged 9–14 before sexual activity is highly effective.

  • Globally, six HPV vaccines are available, protecting against high-risk types 16 and 18.

  • Some countries also vaccinate boys to reduce HPV prevalence and prevent related cancers.

Screening and Early Detection:

  • Women should undergo cervical cancer screening every 5–10 years starting at age 30 (25 for those with HIV).

  • Self-collection of HPV samples has proven reliable and may be preferred by women.

  • Early detection allows for prompt and effective treatment, preventing the progression to cervical cancer.

Timely intervention is crucial in preventing cervical cancer. After a positive HPV test, healthcare providers can identify precancers and offer treatments such as thermal ablation, cryotherapy, LEETZ, or cone biopsy. These procedures are generally quick, painless, and have low complication rates

Recognizing symptoms and seeking medical advice is essential for early-stage cervical cancer diagnosis. Clinical evaluations, tests, and multidisciplinary care teams support accurate staging and appropriate treatment decisions. Quality care involves adherence to national guidelines and holistic support, including psychological, spiritual, and palliative care.

The WHO's global strategy aims to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem by 2030. Targets include 90% HPV vaccine coverage, 70% screening of women aged 35 and 45, and 90% treatment for women with cervical disease. Achieving these goals could avert 74 million new cases and prevent 62 million deaths by 2120.

Cervical cancer remains a significant global health challenge, exacerbated by disparities in access to healthcare and prevention services. Through comprehensive strategies encompassing vaccination, screening, and early detection, the international community can work towards eliminating cervical cancer as a public health threat. The WHO's commitment and targets provide a roadmap for collective efforts to address this critical issue and save millions of lives globally.


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