January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with 604 000 new cases in 2020. About 90% of the 342 000 deaths caused by cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection which can affect the skin, genital area and throat. Almost all sexually active people will be infected at some point in their lives, usually without symptoms. In most cases, the immune system clears HPV from the body. Persistent infection with high-risk HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop, which go on to become cancer.


Being vaccinated at age 9–14 years is a very effective way to prevent HPV infection, cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers.

Screening from the age of 30 (25 years in women living with HIV) can detect cervical disease, which, when treated, also prevents cervical cancer.

At any age with symptoms or concerns, early detection followed by prompt quality treatment can cure cervical cancer.

HPV vaccination and other prevention steps

There are 6 HPV vaccines available globally. All protect against the high-risk HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers, and have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing HPV infection and cervical cancer.

Other important ways to prevent HPV infection include: being a non-smoker or stopping smoking, using condoms, voluntary male circumcision.  Cervical screening and treatment of pre-cancers

Women should be screened for cervical cancer every 5–10 years starting at age 30. Women living with HIV should be screened every 3 years starting at age 25.

Early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer, Cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed and treated at an early stage of disease. Recognizing symptoms and seeking medical advice to address any concerns is a critical step.

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