New approaches to cervical cancer screening in Latin America and the Caribbean

Vaccine. 2008 Aug 19;26 Suppl 11:L49-58. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.05.025.


Cervical cancer remains an important public health problem in the Latin America and Caribbean region (LAC), with an expected significant increase in disease burden in the next decades as a result of population ageing. Prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is currently unaffordable in LAC countries. However, even if vaccination was implemented, an additional two decades will be required to observe its impact on HPV related disease and cancer. With some exceptions, cytology-based screening programs have been largely ineffective to control the problem in the region, and there is a need for new approaches to the organization of screening and for use of newly developed techniques. Several research groups in LAC have conducted research on new screening methods, some of which are summarized in this paper. A recommendation to reorganize screening programs is presented considering visual inspection for very low resource areas, improvement of cytology where it is operating successfully and HPV DNA testing followed by visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) or cytology as soon as this method becomes technically and economically sustainable. This could be facilitated by the incorporation of new, low-cost HPV DNA testing methods and the use of self-collected vaginal specimens for selected groups of the population. An important requisite for screening based on HPV testing will be the quality assurance of the laboratory and the technique by validation and certification measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caribbean Region / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Research
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data