Conquering Cervical Cancer Worldwide

This blog post was written by Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, and the nation’s leading advocacy organization helping to defeat cancer by educating the public, elected officials and candidates about cancer’s toll on public health. ACS CAN is a Global Health Council 2017 member.

We can end deaths from cervical cancer. It’s a simple, but perhaps unknown fact that cervical cancer can be prevented and treated successfully at a very low cost. Yet, an estimated 528,000 women develop cervical cancer globally each year, and nearly 266,000 women die from the disease.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most-common cancer in women worldwide and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in 38 low- and middle-income countries. In fact, about 87 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in less-developed regions.

The U.S. government has a significant role to play in ending deaths from cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer deaths are preventable and interventions are proven and cost-effective, we should be providing resources to protect women against this disease, just like we provide resources to save lives from childbirth and AIDS. That’s why ACS CAN is engaging with federal policymakers on the issue.

This year, ACS CAN launched a global campaign aimed at eliminating death from the disease. Deaths from cervical cancer can be eliminated in girls and women through increased access to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, screening, and treatment in developing countries where U.S. global health programs are already assisting countries in need and addressing other health challenges.

If Congress takes immediate action, eliminating death from cervical cancer worldwide is an achievable goal.

On October 3, ACS CAN brought together health experts, cancer advocates and congressional staff for a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to examine the global burden of cervical cancer. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nita Lowey addressed the crowd and discussed their support for integrating cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment services into existing U.S. global health initiatives, specifically by incorporating language in the FY 2018 State and Foreign Operations appropriations.

Both the House and Senate have included language in their respective FY18 State and Foreign Operations appropriations reports. Language included in the Senate appropriations report would require the USAID to examine ways to utilize the HPV vaccine to significantly reduce mortality from cervical cancer in high-prevalence, low-income countries. As the bill moves through the appropriations process, ACS CAN urges Members of Congress to support this language in the final appropriations report.

Where you live should not determine if you live. As part of our global campaign, we’ve created a visual concept featuring a young girl, Grace. We believe that without cervical cancer standing in their way, all young girls like Grace, and women everywhere, can live productive lives and grow up to achieve anything they put their minds to.

To learn more about ACS CAN’s efforts in eliminating cervical cancer worldwide, visit www.acscan.org/globalcervical.