New WHO guide to prevent and control cervical cancer released!

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently (December 3, 2014) released “Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Control: A guide to essential practice, Second edition”.

This guide contains the latest recommendations of the WHO regarding all public health aspects of cervical cancer:

Primary Prevention:

      Vaccinate 9 to 13 year old girls with two doses of HPV vaccine.

This intends to protect girls before they become sexually active. The recommendation is to use at least the bivalent (16, 18) HPV vaccine. Ideally, the vaccination should be performed with the quadrivalent (6, 11, 16,18) HPV vaccine as it protects from the types that cause 90% of anogenital warts as well as cervical cancer.

Secondary Prevention:

     Use Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) or HPV testing to screen women for cervical cancer prevention.

The use of HPV testing is likely to result in major cost savings for health systems as it will reduce the frequency of screenings. 

Once a woman is screened to be HPV negative, she should not undergo re-screening for at least 5 years, but before 10 years.

VIA/ HPV testing should be followed by treatment of detected precancerous lesions which could develop into cervical cancer.

Other Key Recommendations:

      Communicate more widely.

Instead of focusing mostly on encouraging the screening of women aged over 29, the guide recommends communicating with a wider audience: adolescents, parents, educators, leaders and people working at all levels of the health system, to reach women throughout their lives.

     Address inequities.

The guide recommends addressing gender inequality and ensuring women’s right to health.


Important Links

   Link to the new WHO guide:

   Link to the WHO factsheet on HPV and cervical cancer:

   Link to the news release about the new guide:


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