Do You Know How to Prevent Cervical Cancer?

By Dr. Heather White, Technical Advisor- NCDs, PSI 

Cervical cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in most developing countries.

Each year, roughly 525,000 women develop cervical cancer and over 265,000 women die from the disease.[1][2] Almost 90% of the disease burden lies in developing countries where access to screening programs are not readily available and women are diagnosed at a late stage.

Here’s what PSI is doing to prevent cervical cancer in the developing world.

Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Today, there are several effective vaccines on the market to protect against HPV. When given to girls and young adults – ideally before sexual debut – the HPV vaccine can protect against the most common subtypes of HPV, which are responsible for up to 90% of cervical cancer cases.

For women who are not eligible for the HPV vaccine, screening and early detection of cervical abnormalities can save also lives.

  • Screening with Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) is a WHO-endorsed screening method. VIA screening can be administered in remote settings with very low costs, provided infrastructure and capacity exists.
  • Molecular testing (e.g., HPV DNA/RNA) is also endorsed by WHO in detection for pre-cancer lesions. Self-sampling for HPV DNA has been shown to be an effective screening method that offers women the ability to screen without the need for an initial pelvic exam.

Since 2012, PSI network members have offered cervical cancer screening as part of an integrated package of reproductive health services for women. Today, PSI offers screening and preventive treatment in twelve countries across its network.  To date, PSI network members have screened over 1.6 million women and treated over 15,000 women to date as part of their commitment cervical cancer prevention.  We actively engage and support partnerships – such as the American Cancer Society, Grounds for Health, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon –which drive forward the cervical cancer prevention agenda and saves lives.

To see PSI’s Cervical Cancer prevention programs in action, watch the video below:

[1] Cervical Cancer Action. Progress in Cervical Cancer Prevention: 2015 Report Card. Available at:

[2] ICO Information Centre on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Cancer, 2015. Available at: