Sexual and reproductive health

New guidelines for the screening and treatment of cervical cancer

Front cover

Women’s cancers, including breast, cervical and ovarian cancer, lead to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths among women. Whilst investments and cytology-based programmes to prevent and treat women’s cancers such as cervical cancer have improved and led to strong reductions in high-income countries, in low-and middle-income countries, deaths among women remain high.

In low- and middle-income countries, cytology-based programmes are very difficult to implement, and where they are implemented, the screening coverage is low. Therefore, new strategies for screening and treatment had to be considered in order to increase coverage in all countries and ultimately decrease cervical cancer incidence and mortality.

For the first time WHO is issuing recommendations, based on the available evidence, on the use of a screen and treat approach using visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) for screening and treatment with cryotherapy, or when feasible HPV testing followed by treatment.

Cervical cancer prevention requires a comprehensive, integrated approach across different health programmes and government ministries. These new guidelines combined with HPV vaccination, support the commitment of Member States to implement cervical cancer prevention programme as part of the 2013-2020 Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and will help ensure that cervical cancer ceases to be a public health problem.