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Preventing Cervical Cancer in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Globally, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women, with more than 530,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths every year. Most cases occur in low- and middle-income countries where there are no cervical cancer prevention programmes. Compared to Western Europe, the number of new cervical cancer cases and deaths is up to 10 times higher in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, where this disease is the second most common cause of cancer death among women. Every year, there are more than 38,000 new cases and 18,000 deaths from cervical cancer in the region. The primary reason for the higher number of new cases and deaths in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is a lack of the high-quality cervical screening programmes that are common in Western European countries such as Finland, which now has one of the lowest cervical cancer rates in the world.

This issue brief looks at the prevalence of new cervical cancer cases and deaths in the EECA region, causes of cervical cancer, and reasons to prioritise prevention. It also offers policy recommendations for establishing the national mechanisms required for the progressive implementation of organised cervical prevention programmes that will ensure cervical screening and cervical cancer treatment services are of high quality and can be equally accessed by all women in the target population.