January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, so over the next few weeks the Women’s Health Research Institute will be posting a series of blogs related to this important topic in women’s health.

 While cervical cancer rates have dropped significantly within the United States throughout the last several decades, cervical cancer still remains a critical global health issue. According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is second most common form of cancer for women living in less developed regions of the world. Each year, approximately 270,000 women die from cervical cancer, with 85% of deaths occurring in low-to-middle income countries [1].

 The high mortality rate for cervical cancer in the developing world is driven by limited access to cervical cancer screening and treatment. Laboratory-based methods used to detect cervical cancer, and the personnel required to perform and analyze them may be unavailable in resource-limited settings. Likewise, the ability to treat cervical cancer is highly dependent on access to surgical facilities, chemotherapy agents, and radiation equipment [2].

 Efforts are underway by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control to promote other methods of detection besides the traditional pap smear [3]. These include human papilloma virus testing (HPV) and visual inspection of the cervix using a vinegar solution [3]. The United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control also recommends providing the HPV vaccine to all adolescent girls in order to reduce the incidence of HPV-associated cervical cancer [4]. Together, these strategies may reduce the burden of cervical cancer worldwide.

 

References:
1. Ferlay et al. International Journal of Cancer 2015; 136(5): E359-86.
2. Small et al., Cancer. 2017;123(13):2404-2412.
3. Centers for Disease Control.
4. United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control


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