Sexual and reproductive health

Cervical cancer

Elimination of cervical cancer as a global health problem is within reach

Image of adolescent girls.
WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

4 February 2019: On World Cancer Day, WHO is reflecting on the unnecessary deaths of 300 000 women who die each year from cervical cancer. Every minute one woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer which is one of the greatest today to women's health today. It is also preventable and treatable which is what makes each death a tragedy. These deaths occur most often where women are not diagnosed early enough, and lack access to the life-saving treatment that they need. WHO’s challenge is to ensure that this changes. In May 2018, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made a global call for action towards the elimination of cervical cancer. To achieve that, innovative technologies and strategies are needed.

WHO leads the way towards the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health concern

24 September 2018 | WHO and partners are working on the definition of a threshold under which cervical cancer will no longer be considered a public health concern, and associated short-term milestones to set the trajectory to reach elimination.

WHO Director-General calls for all countries to take action to help end the suffering caused by cervical cancer

Woman being screened for cervical cancer in a rural clinic, Kenya
Jonathan Torgovnik
Woman being screened for cervical cancer in a rural clinic, Kenya

19 May 2018: Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer as long as it is prevented with HPV vaccination, detected early, and managed effectively. Prevention and early treatment are highly cost-effective. Worldwide however, cervical cancer remains one of the gravest threats to women’s lives, and globally, one woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes.

Improving access to health products for people co-infected with HIV and HPV: Unitaid board passes resolution

A Woman registering for free breast & cervical cancer screening, Africa.
By Project Pink Blue CC BY-SA 4.0

8 June 2017: In recognition of the need to address some of the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries, the board of Unitaid has passed a resolution to support improved access to health products for people with advanced HIV disease, those co-infected with HIV and hepatitis, as well as, people co-infected with HIV and HPV. This resolution presents an important step forward in ensuring the prevention and control of cervical cancer.

Screening as well as vaccination is essential in the fight against cervical cancer

Illustration of cervical cancer screening in Mongolia.
WHO / WPRO /Nomin Lkhagvasuren

An estimated one million-plus women worldwide are currently living with cervical cancer. Many have no access to health services for prevention, curative treatment or palliative care. Cervical cancer is associated with infection by human papillomavirus (HPV).

Guidelines for the prevention and control of cervical cancer

HPV vaccination of adolescent girls in a school, Brazil.
HPV Vaccination in Sao Paulo Brazil. March 2014

Cervical cancer is one of the world’s deadliest – but most easily preventable – forms of cancer for women, responsible for more than 270 000 deaths annually, 85% of which occur in developing countries. The second edition of WHO's guidelines were launched at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Melbourne, Australia on 3 December 2014. These guidelines could mean the difference between life and death for girls and women worldwide.

Revised WHO position on human papillomavirus vaccines

WHO/C. McNab

24 October 2014 - In an updated position paper published today, WHO revised the number of doses recommended for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines for different age groups.

WHO reiterates its recommendation that HPV vaccines should be included in national immunization programmes, provided that: prevention of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases constitutes a public health priority; vaccine introduction is programmatically feasible; sustainable financing can be secured; and the cost-effectiveness of vaccination strategies in the country or region is considered.

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How the HPV vaccine works

Saving women’s lives in Mongolia through cancer screening