Joshi, S., & Sankaranarayanan, R. (2015). Opportunities for Cervical Cancer Prevention in India. Journal of Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University, 4, 8–17.


Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world. Of the 528,000 new cases detected globally in 2012, developing countries accounted to about 85% of its global burden [1]. This is one of the most well studied cancers, several landmark studies have been completed in the past few decades and cost-effective interventions to prevent cervical cancer are now available. We are in the era with dual prong strategy for cervical cancer prevention with the availability of Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and affordable and effective methods for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer precursor lesions so that cervical cancer can prevented. India accounted to more than one fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer in 2012 with 123,000 new cases of cervical cancer [1]. This burden is likely to increase to 149,000 new cases by 2020 due to demographic effect of population growth and increased life expectancy [1]. Although breast cancer incidence was higher than cervical cancer incidence in India in 2012, it is highly probable that cervical cancer incidence rates are an underestimate for India possibly due to under-diagnosis of cervical cancer cases in rural areas and among most impoverished women as well as due to non-inclusion of sub-clinical cervical cancers in routine hysterectomy specimens not subjected to histopathology, which is a common practice in many regions of India. In spite of the high burden and available effective interventions, there are very few and sporadic initiatives for cervical cancer prevention in India. We summarize the evidence for effective interventions and recent WHO guidelines for cervical cancer prevention to catalyse prevention efforts.