Women's Journal

Addressing Global Disparities in Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer
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A Crucial Step in Cervical Cancer Prevention

Cervical cancer, ranking as the fourth most prevalent cancer in women globally, poses a significant health challenge. In 2020 alone, there were approximately 604,000 new cases and 342,000 fatalities. The burden is disproportionately borne by low- and middle-income countries due to disparities in HPV vaccination, cervical screening, and treatment services. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection stands as the primary cause, with women living with HIV facing a sixfold increased risk.

Empowering Through Vaccination and Screening

Prophylactic HPV vaccination and systematic screening for pre-cancerous lesions emerge as effective preventive measures. Raising public awareness and ensuring access to information and services are pivotal components of successful prevention and control strategies. Commencing vaccination at a young age proves highly effective, while screening from age 30 (or 25 for HIV-positive women) aids in early detection and intervention.

Self-Collection for Enhanced Accessibility

Innovations in healthcare, such as self-collection of HPV samples, offer reliable alternatives, particularly for women. A positive HPV test prompts further assessments for precancerous changes. Treatment options, including thermal ablation, cryotherapy, LEETZ, and cone biopsy, provide effective intervention, emphasizing the importance of early detection.

Prompt Action and Global Commitment

Early detection remains paramount for successful treatment. Women experiencing symptoms like abnormal bleeding, unusual discharge, pelvic pain, weight loss, or fatigue should seek immediate medical advice. On a global scale, the commitment to eliminate cervical cancer is evident in the WHO Global strategy, targeting high vaccination rates, widespread screening, and effective treatment for women with cervical disease by 2030. This ambitious plan aims to avert millions of new cases and deaths, signifying a comprehensive global effort against cervical cancer.

The prevention of HPV-associated precancer and cancer aligns with the WHO’s broader Global health sector strategy on HIV, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, the World Health Assembly resolution encompasses actions addressing oral health and mouth and throat cancers.