Advances in primary and secondary interventions for cervical cancer: human papillomavirus prophylactic vaccines and testing

Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2007 Apr;4(4):224-35. doi: 10.1038/ncponc0770.


Cytologic screening has greatly reduced the incidence of invasive cervical cancer in many industrialized nations. State-of-the-art cervical cancer prevention is costly, however, and includes cytologic screening at repeat intervals, confirmation of abnormalities by colposcopic biopsy, and treatment of precancerous lesions. In resource-limited settings, accessibility to prevention programs for cervical cancer is often poor, or such programs are simply unavailable or inadequately supported. This disease, therefore, remains a leading form of cancer among women living in low-resource regions, and over 250,000 women worldwide die from cervical cancer each year. Persistent cervical infection with one of approximately 15 carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) types causes virtually all invasive cervical cancer and its precursor abnormalities, which can be detected by cytologic screening. Genital HPV infections are primarily transmitted via sexual intercourse. One promising prophylactic HPV vaccine is available and others continue in development as primary cervical cancer prevention strategies in younger women. As secondary interventions, HPV tests are simultaneously evolving for use in cervical cancer screening programs, including routine screening of older women. HPV testing is more sensitive and reproducible than cytology with colposcopy for the detection of cervical precancer and cancer. This article presents current advances and perspectives on HPV vaccines and HPV testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Human Papillomavirus Recombinant Vaccine Quadrivalent, Types 6, 11, 16, 18
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / economics
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology


  • Human Papillomavirus Recombinant Vaccine Quadrivalent, Types 6, 11, 16, 18
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines