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Family on a bench.

Cervical cancer disproportionately affects women, families, and communities in developing countries.

Cervical cancer kills more than 288,000 women each year worldwide and disproportionately affects the poorest, most vulnerable women. At least 80 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries, with most occurring in the poorest region—South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Latin America.

Health care providers in developing countries regularly see women with advanced, incurable cervical cancer. At this late stage, there is little they can do to save women's lives. Even drugs designed to ease cancer pain often are unavailable. Yet cervical cancer can be readily prevented, even in women at high risk for the disease, through screening and treatment using relatively simple technologies. When precancerous changes in cervical tissue are found and the abnormal tissue successfully treated, a woman will not develop cancer.

In 1999, with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, five international agencies launched a major new effort to prevent cervical cancer worldwide. This group of organizations, the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention, is working to clarify, promote, and implement strategies for preventing cervical cancer in developing countries.

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