Advancing cervical cancer prevention in India: Implementation science priorities
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in India, accounting for 17% of all cancer deaths among women aged 30 to 69 years. At current incidence rates, the annual burden of new cases in India is projected to increase to 225,000 by 2025, but there are few large-scale, organized cervical cancer prevention programs in the country. We conducted a review of the cervical cancer prevention research literature and programmatic experiences in India to summarize the current state of knowledge and practices and recommend research priorities to address the gap in services. We found that research and programs in India have demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of cervical cancer prevention efforts and that screening strategies requiring minimal additional human resources and laboratory infrastructure can reduce morbidity and mortality. However, additional evidence generated through implementation science research is needed to ensure that cervical cancer prevention efforts have the desired impact and are cost-effective. Specifically, implementation science research is needed to understand individual- and community-level barriers to screening and diagnostic and treatment services; to improve health care worker performance; to strengthen links among screening, diagnosis, and treatment; and to determine optimal program design, outcomes, and costs. With a quarter of the global burden of cervical cancer in India, there is no better time than now to translate research findings to practice. Implementation science can help ensure that investments in cervical cancer prevention and control result in the greatest impact.