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15th December 2022 (7 Topics)

WHO cervical cancer targets still distant: Lancet Study


The study published in Lancet Global Health Journal says that the incidence of cervical cancer has decreased in many parts of the world but the burden remains high in low- and middle-income countries.

Findings of the study:

Data for 2020: (Global)

Data for 2020: (India)

  • New cases: More than 6,00,000
  • Deaths: More than 3,40,000
  • New cases: 1,23,907
  • Deaths: 77,348
  • Major decline: Latin American countries including Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica; Asian nations like India, Thailand, and South Korea; and Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic in Eastern Europe.
  • Increase in cases: Latvia, Lithuania, and Bulgaria, in parts of East Africa, as well as in The Netherlands and Italy.
  • Reasons for the increase: Increased prevalence of HPV among the younger generations of women and lack of effective screening programmes.
  • Sources used: International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) 2020 database.

WHO Cervical Cancer targets:

  • The World Health Assembly adopted the global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem.
  • The definition of elimination of cervical cancer has been set up as a country reaching the threshold of fewer than 4 cases of cervical cancer per 100 000 women per year.
  • To reach this threshold by the end of the 21st century, WHO has set up 90-70-90 targets to be reached by 2030 and to be maintained.
    • 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15;
    • 70% of women are screened with a high-performance test by 35, and again by 45 years of age.; and
    • 90% of women identified with the cervical disease receive treatment (90% of women with pre-cancer treatment; 90% of women with invasive cancer managed).
  • WHO has developed guidance and tools on how to prevent and control cervical cancer through vaccination, screening and treatment, and management of invasive cancer.
  • WHO works with countries and partners to develop and implement the comprehensive programme in line with the global strategy.

About Cervical Cancer

  • It is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix - the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
  • Various strains of the Human papillomavirus (HPV) play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
  • When exposed to HPV, the body's immune system typically prevents the virus from harming. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.

Cervical cancer in India

India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year.

Can it be prevented?

  • The development of effective vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, and screening programmes have made cervical cancer a largely preventable disease.
  • The HPV vaccine (Cervarix) protects against two of the cancer-causing strains, which are HPV 16 and 18.

Measures that can be taken:

  • Early screening and timely treatment
  • Vaccination
  • Sexual health education
  • Cervavac is India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer.
    • It will be costing between Rs200-400 a shot
    • CERVAVAC will be effective against at least four variants of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Types of HPV Vaccines:

  • Quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil): It protects against four types of HPV (HPV 16, 18, 6 and 11). The latter two strains cause genital warts.
  • Bivalent vaccine (Cervarix): It protects against HPV 16 and 18 only.
  • Non-valent vaccine (Gardasil 9): It protects against nine strains of HPV.
    • These vaccines prevent cervical cancer in women and girls who have not yet been exposed to the virus.

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