The number of women die every year due to cervical cancer will rise by almost 50 percent by 2040 if no action is taken to combat the deadly disease which kills more than 300,000 patients every year, the UN health agency said. Every minute, one woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement Monday to coincide with the World Cancer Day.
Nine out of 10 women who die from cervical cancer are from poor countries, and that if no action is taken, deaths from the disease will rise by almost 50 percent by 2040, it said. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and curable forms of the disease.
The WHO points out that new diagnoses can be reduced by ensuring that all 9-14 year old girls globally are vaccinated against Human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that are extremely common worldwide, two types of which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. Women in developing countries have only limited access to preventative measures, and cervical cancer is often not identified until it has reached an advanced stage. Access to treatment of late-stage cervical cancer – such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy - is also very limited, resulting in higher death rates in these countries.
To achieve this aim, the WHO says that innovative technologies and strategies, access to diagnosis and early-stage treatment of invasive cancers are needed. In addition, palliative care for women who need it must be ensured. All of these services must be part of strong health systems aimed at providing universal health coverage, and will require political commitment, greater international cooperation and support for equitable access.
Several countries and UN agencies have already joined forces under the UN Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control, a five-year programme to provide global leadership and technical assistance to governments and their partners as they build national cervical cancer control programmes, with the aim of eliminating cervical cancers as a public health concern across the world. In order to succeed, the WHO said that governments, United Nations agencies, researchers, healthcare professionals and individuals all have a role to play, as do the manufacturers of life-saving vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
(With inputs from agencies.)