Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer


The government’s plan to encourage vaccination against cervical cancer is a positive step.


GS-02 (Health)

Key Highlights

  • Cervical cancer is closely linked to HPV infection and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in India.
  • Screening for cervical cancer is essential for early detection and treatment.
  • Simple diagnostic tests like VIA and VILI, along with cryotherapy, can significantly reduce mortality rates.
  • A comprehensive national cervical cancer control program must include both vaccination and screening components.

Cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer, prevalent in a woman’s cervix, ranks as the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide and the second most common in India.
  • India shoulders a substantial burden of global cervical cancer cases, with nearly a quarter of all deaths attributed to this disease. Almost all cervical cancer cases stem from high-risk HPV infection, transmitted primarily through sexual contact.
  • Early vaccination, ideally before initial sexual activity, proves highly effective against cervical cancer. Moreover, with effective primary (vaccination) and secondary (screening and treatment of precancerous lesions) prevention strategies, the majority of cervical cancer cases can be averted.
  • While cervical cancer is treatable if detected early, even late-stage diagnoses can be managed with proper treatment and palliative care. Adopting a comprehensive approach encompassing prevention, screening, and treatment can pave the way for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health threat within a generation.


  • CERVAVAC, India’s pioneering quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine, targets four strains of the virus: Type 6, Type 11, Type 16, and Type 18.
  • This vaccine triggers an immune response against these four antigens, akin to the Hepatitis B vaccination, using Virus-Like Particles (VLP).
  • Having received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India and the government advisory panel NTAGI, CERVAVAC holds promise in combating cervical cancer. If integrated into national HPV vaccination efforts and made available at an affordable price, it could significantly contribute to cervical cancer elimination.

Understanding the Challenge

  • Cervical cancer poses a significant public health challenge in India, being the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
  • The disease is primarily caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, transmitted through sexual contact.
  • While vaccination against HPV is a crucial preventive measure, it alone may not suffice to address the burden of cervical cancer due to the limited reach and effectiveness of vaccination programs.

Way Forward:

  • Comprehensive Control Program: To effectively address the challenge of cervical cancer, a comprehensive national control program is imperative. This program should encompass both vaccination and screening components, ensuring that women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds have access to preventive and diagnostic services. By integrating vaccination, screening, and treatment services, the government can maximize the impact of its efforts and significantly reduce the burden of cervical cancer in India.
  • Ensuring Accessibility: Accessibility is key to the success of any public health program. Therefore, efforts must be made to ensure that cervical cancer control services are readily available and easily accessible to all women, regardless of their age, education, or socio-economic status. This may require strengthening primary health care infrastructure and implementing outreach programs to reach remote and marginalized communities.