The challenge of eliminating cervical cancer in the United States: a story of politics, prudishness, and prevention

Women Health. 2009 Mar-May;49(2-3):246-61. doi: 10.1080/03630240902915101.


Exciting strides in reducing the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer have been made over the last century in the United States. The issues surrounding the implementation of the human papillomavirus vaccine are remarkably similar to the issues involved in the gradual adoption of the Pap test and initiation of cervical cancer screening beginning nearly a century ago. The following review of the reduction of cervical cancer morbidity and mortality demonstrates the importance of the interplay between basic science, clinical medicine, social mores, and public policy.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / history
  • Incidence
  • Mass Screening / history*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / history
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / history
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis
  • Precancerous Conditions / history
  • Precancerous Conditions / virology*
  • Public Policy
  • Social Values
  • United States
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / history
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vaginal Smears / history
  • Viral Vaccines* / history


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines