Cervical Precancer Treatment in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Technology Overview

J Glob Oncol. 2016 Aug 17;3(4):400-408. doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.003731. eCollection 2017 Aug.


Cervical cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide, with 90% of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There has been a global effort to increase access to affordable screening in these settings; however, a corresponding increase in availability of effective and inexpensive treatment modalities for ablating or excising precancerous lesions is also needed to decrease mortality. This article reviews the current landscape of available and developing technologies for treatment of cervical precancer in LMICs. At present, the standard treatment of most precancerous lesions in LMICs is gas-based cryotherapy. This low-cost, effective technology is an expedient treatment in many areas; however, obtaining and transporting gas is often difficult, and unwieldy gas tanks are not conducive to mobile health campaigns. There are several promising ablative technologies in development that are gasless or require less gas than conventional cryotherapy. Although further evaluation of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness is needed, several of these technologies are safe and can now be implemented in LMICs. Nonsurgical therapies, such as therapeutic vaccines, antivirals, and topical applications, are also promising, but most remain in early-stage trials. The establishment of evidence-based standardized protocols for available treatments and the development and introduction of novel technologies are necessary steps in overcoming barriers to treatment in LMICs and decreasing the global burden of cervical cancer. Guidance from WHO on emerging treatment technologies is also needed.

Publication types

  • Review