HPV and Cervical Cancer Resources

This website compiles HPV-related resources from various sources for informational purposes only. While we strive for accuracy, information may become outdated due to ongoing advancements. Consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.

Female caucasian doctor vaccinating young Indian girl in small village, Rajasthan, India

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix, which is located at the end of the uterus where it meets the vagina. It is a cancer that can be prevented. Effective primary prevention (vaccination against HPV, or human papillomavirus, the cause of most cervical cancers) and secondary prevention (screening for and treating precancerous lesions) protect against most cervical cancer cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has targeted cervical cancer as the first cancer to be eliminated. 

How prevalent is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with 660,000 new cases and 350,000 deaths recorded in 2022. However, incidence and deaths vary across regions and countries, e.g. the African continent has 8 times higher mortality rates compared to North America. In 25 countries, cervical cancer is now the most common cancer affecting women and in 58 countries it is the second most common. 94% of cervical cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where women have less access to prevention and treatment

How is cervical cancer prevented?

Cervical cancer is preventable and with a comprehensive strategy based on three pillars — vaccination, screening, and treatment – it can be eliminated. 95% of cervical cancer cases are caused by persistent untreated HPV infection in the cervix. Several highly effective vaccines are available which can prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer. In addition, screening can help detect precancerous lesions which can be easily removed and treated.

How many HPV vaccines and screening tests are available?

According to WHO’s latest guidance in December 2022, there are six licensed HPV vaccines: three bivalent (two HPV strains), two quadrivalent (four HPV strains), and one nonavalent (nine HPV strains) vaccine. While visual inspection (VIA) and cytology-based screening methods exist, WHO has recommended DNA testing as the first choice to detect high-risk HPV genotypes. As of June 2023, WHO has pre-qualified 4 HPV DNA tests for use in countries.

What is the optimal dosage of the HPV vaccine?

The World Health Organization updated its HPV vaccination recommendations in December 2022, saying one dose of HPV vaccine is as effective as the previously-recommended two doses for girls and women ages 9-20. Two doses are still recommended for women over age 21, and three doses for women living with HIV. 

What is the difference between the various screening methods?

There are several methods of screening for cervical cancer including conventional cytology, liquid-based cytology, visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), and HPV nucleic acid (DNA/RNA) testing. HPV DNA testing has been shown to have higher reduction in cervical cancer compared to other screening methods.

Additional Resources

What are some of the active learning groups with regular webinars and learning activities? 
What are some successful examples of countries or regions which have made significant progress towards eliminating cervical cancer?  
Where can I find resources to train health workers or tools for health workers on cervical cancer?  
Where can I find communication material to improve my community’s understanding of cervical cancer?  
How can misinformation and disinformation regarding cervical cancer elimination strategies be addressed?  
How can cervical cancer elimination strategies be integrated together along with other healthcare services?  
How can countries with limited resources set up strong cervical cancer control programs?  
Is HPV vaccine only meant for girls? 
How can my country’s healthcare system deliver vaccines to the adolescent age group?  
What are some effective strategies to improve HPV immunization coverage?  

Recent Articles of Interest on HPV and Cervical Cancer (March – May 2024)


Feedback on this page can be sent to: sabin@sabin.org