Cervical cancer screening and prevention
Despite cervical cancer being a vaccine-preventable disease, and being treatable if diagnosed in the early stages, it is the third most common cancer among women in terms of both global incidence and cause of cancer deaths, affecting mostly low- and middle-income countries. Persistent infection of the cervix with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the necessary (but not sufficient) cause of cervical cancer. These infections are sexually transmitted and can be prevented or reduced through vaccination before sexual debut, and managed if detected early through cervical cancer screening programmes. This review offers insight into the challenges faced in South Africa regarding the prevention of cervical cancer, and the role of pharmacists in addressing these challenges.