The deaths of thousands of women represent a tragic loss for millions of their families and friends, and for society as a whole. But a greater tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented. Whilst we do not have effective preventive strategies for most other types of cancer, this is not the case for cervical cancer.
With routine screening and vaccination, we now have the means to prevent many cancer deaths and greatly reduce the burden of cervical disease - so why is this not happening? Why are thousands of women still developing cervical cancer and millions of young women continuing to run the risk of preventable cervical disease?
At the root of the problem is lack of information, knowledge, understanding - and absence of subsequent action - by:
- Young girls and women - who do not know enough about cervical cancer and its causes, and what they must do to protect themselves from developing it.
- Health professionals and educators - who often do not know enough about cervical disease and its cause, prevention and management - or have the educational tools - to enable them to advise and help women effectively.
- Policy-makers and the authorities responsible for allocation of health resources - who may not appreciate the great individual, medical and economic burden of cervical cancer and pre-cancerous disease - and the great savings that can be gained in all these factors by implementation of effective prevention strategies.