Frequently Asked Questions

This section answers some frequently asked questions you may have. Where helpful, some answers will signpost you to resources that you can use to effectively and confidently advocate to stop cervical cancer in your country. Do you have a question that is not addressed throughout out site? Please email us with your question.

What does cervical cancer elimination mean?

To achieve cervical cancer elimination globally, all countries are required to reduce annual incidence of cervical cancer to the elimination threshold of 4 per 100,000 women or less- taking cervical cancer incidence below the definition of a rare cancer (6 per 100,000).

Why does Cervical Cancer Action for Elimination endorse WHO’s 90-70-90 targets?
  • According to SAGE, these targets are necessary to be achieved by 2030 for countries, in order to be on the path to elimination. For maximum impact, interventions to meet the three targets must be implemented simultaneously and at scale. The targets are ambitious, but already being achieved in some settings.
  • We will need to continue to understand the concerns and barriers of women not accessing the HPV vaccine or screening, to make sure everyone, including the most vulnerable populations build vaccine and screening confidence.
  • The hope of new innovations such as wider uptake of self-sampling, e-health and navigation services will allow more rapid scale-up and uptake in populations, including underserved populations, if implemented.
What is the burden of cervical cancer in my country?

Accurate data on the burden and mortality of cervical cancer can be a compelling way of raising awareness of cervical cancer as a public health problem in your country. At the population level, three types of burden information are usually available:

(1) cervical cancer incidence (new cases of the disease)

(2) cervical cancer survival (percentage of patients surviving n years after date of diagnosis)

(3) mortality (number of cervical cancer deaths).

The International Agency for Research in Cancer’s Global Cancer Observatory (GCO) is a useful resource for cancer advocates and researchers and houses information on current and projected burdens of different types of cancer for most countries. It is a user-friendly searchable and dynamic tool. Find more information about the burden of cervical cancer in your country here

WHO are due to publish data on the social and economic burden of cervical cancer. We will update this page once the investment case is ready so please check back regularly for updates.

How can my country procure sufficient and affordable HPV vaccine?
How can my country increase the quality and coverage of vaccination?
  • Increasing the coverage of HPV vaccination will require efficient and sustainable multisectoral delivery platforms (such as school immunization programs) and innovative community-based approaches to reach vulnerable populations (such as adolescent girls who are not in school).
  • Especially with covid-19 causing widespread disruption to schooling worldwide, it will be necessary to think of alternative ways to reach girls or implement catch up programs for those who may have missed their vaccine due to the pandemic.
  •  You may find this resource helpful: WHO page on Implementation of HPV Vaccination programmes.
Why only vaccinate girls against HPV?
  •  It is well known that HPV causes not only cervical cancer, but also cancers which may affect men or women including; anal cancer, cancer of the penis, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer and some types of head and neck cancer in addition to genital warts. The HPV vaccine therefore is beneficial to both boys and girls to help protect them against a wide range of cancers and genital warts caused by HPV.
  • However, until now there has been a limited supply of HPV and WHO has recommended that in this scenario, we should prioritise the vaccination of girls against cervical cancer as globally, the cervical cancer disease burden is higher than other HPV-caused cancers.
  • The HPV vaccination works by herd immunity, so the majority of boys will be protected from HPV infections when interacting with vaccinated girls.
My country does not have a cancer control plan, where should we start?
  • A data and research-informed strategic cancer control plan prioritizing cervical cancer is the first step on the path to cervical cancer elimination in any country.
  • Including HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening, which are high-impact, low-cost interventions, or “best buys”, should be the starting point for all low-income countries (LICs) and countries without a current plan. Countries with existing plans should assess how to address cervical cancer inequities and scale-up coverage.
  • Plans should set realistic priorities, specification of programmes for cancer management, allocation of appropriate budgets, monitoring and evaluation of plan implementation, promotion of research, and strengthening of information systems. National guidelines, policies and strategies should be updated as new evidence and innovations on better and more efficient approaches to HPV vaccination, screening, and treatment become available.
  • Your plan should also include routine data collection to evaluate cervical cancer control programs.
Why is a cancer registry important and does my country have a reliable cancer registry?

Cancer registries are vital for adequately informing cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs. According to CDC, a cancer registry collects and combines detailed information about cancer patients and the initial treatments they receive to answer questions like:

  • Is there a certain area of a state where women are finding out they have breast cancer at a late stage, when it’s harder to treat?
  • Where will prevention efforts, like screening, have the biggest benefit?
  • What groups of people are most likely to get a certain type of cancer, like liver or skin cancer?

Cancer monitoring and surveillance activities vary by country. Ideally, all countries should have population-based cancer registries that track incidence data (that capture each new diagnosis) along with surveillance systems that capture information on risk factors of non-communicable diseases (usually collected through surveys).

Unfortunately, the regions with highest cervical cancer mortality are the least likely to have high quality population-based cancer registries. Find out if your country has a cancer registry: International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR).

Global efforts to strengthen cancer registries are underway and should be supported because monitoring is an essential for adequately informing cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs. Find out how you can help strengthen your registry with the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development.

Why invest in improved data collection and reporting?
  • What gets measured gets done
  • If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure, and you can’t identify gaps and find solutions
  • If you can’t see success, you can’t learn from it and share it.
  • If you can’t see success, you can’t reward it.
  • If you can’t reward success, you are tolerating failure.
  • If you can’t recognize failure, you can’t correct it.
  • If you can demonstrate cost effective results, you can scale up.
  • Learn more about how to improve data for decision-making on cervical cancer.
Our national budget is stretched so we need to start by introducing either screening + treatment or HPV vaccination first, which is logistically simpler?

Setting up HPV vaccination is logistically simpler than screening and treatment. To tackle HPV infection rapidly, you may want to start with an immunization program. That also will help awaken the public to the threat of cervical cancer. HPV vaccination is also more cost effective. To achieve elimination, you will need to achieve the three 90-70-90 targets by 2030.