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Global cervical cancer advice released

Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

New global guidance has been published on the best way to tackle cervical cancer - one of the most preventable forms of cancer, according to experts.

The World Health Organisation guidance 'Comprehensive cervical cancer control: a guide to essential practice' is aimed at health care providers around the world.

It highlights the 270,000 deaths per year caused by the disease. But vaccination of nine to 13-year-old girls with two doses of human papillomavirus (HPV) would prevent an enormous number of these deaths, it says.

HPV is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, and recent studies confirm that a reduced, two-dose schedule is just as effective as the current three-dose schedule used in more than 55 countries. It will also save on costs.

"Encouragingly, a growing number of low- and middle-income countries are introducing HPV vaccine in the routine schedule," write the authors in the WHO guidance.

A further measure recommended in the guidance is screening with HPV tests. "Once a woman has been screened negative, she should not be rescreened for at least five years, but should be rescreened within ten," say the experts. This approach will also save on costs, compared with the alternatives.

In addition, communication with a wider audience is recommended - adolescents, parents, educators, leaders and people working at all levels of the health system should be educated on the condition.

"WHO's updated cervical cancer guidance can be the difference between life and death for girls and women worldwide," believes Dr Nathalie Broutet of WHO.

"There are no magic bullets, but the combination of more effective and affordable tools to prevent and treat cervical cancer will help release the strain on stretched health budgets, especially in low-income countries, and contribute drastically to the elimination of cervical cancer."

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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