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Why is Preventing Cervical Cancer so Important?

Cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women: it affects around half-a-million women and - each year - kills over 280,000, worldwide. Its impact can be devastating as it strikes mainly at women in their 30s and 40s, a time when many are bringing up young families or concentrating on their careers and enjoying busy lives. Having cervical cancer puts a huge personal and emotional burden on the women and their families and friends, as well as placing enormous medical and economic costs on society.

The extensive benefits of eradicating this terrible disease are clear to see.

We now know that cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with the human papillomavirus, HPV. This virus is also responsible for millions of cases of pre-cancerous cervical disease and, even though it is not cancer, women with this diagnosis still suffer a great deal of anxiety and distress because they are worried that it could develop into cancer. Pre-cancerous disease needs close monitoring and sometimes treatment, too - and this puts a further great burden on health resources.

The good news is that, if women are regularly screened with cervical smears and Pap tests, pre-cancerous disease can be detected in the early stages, before it has a chance to develop into cancer. And a recent major breakthrough - the introduction of HPV vaccines - means that cervical cancer and pre-cancer (and also some other genital cancers) can even be prevented. The combination of HPV vaccination with effective secondary prevention by early detection of precancerous lesions, has the potential to reduce the incidence of this disease to very low levels

Learn more: WACC Charter.