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CANSA Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Awareness Video

HPV-related Cancers

The underlying cause of cervical cancer, which claims the lives of more than 3 000 SA women each year is HPV, which is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and is a very common virus, infecting most people at some point in their lives. There are many types of HPV and some of the virus types can infect the cells that could lead to cancer. About 40 types are sexually transmitted through genital contact, while mostly two types (16 + 18) are considered high risk in SA. High-risk HPV is estimated to cause 70 percent of cervical cancers; 50 percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers; and 20 percent of head and neck cancers.

Tools to Lower Risk 

The HPV School Vaccination Programme is conducted to help reduce cervical cancer risk. Persistent infection with HPV may lead to cervical cancer, so all females in the age group of nine to 26 years (provided they are not sexually active) may be vaccinated. Vaccines have proven to be 90% effective in eliminating the virus.

*Cervical screening through Pap smears detects HPV-related cancers and pre-cancers, making effective treatment possible.

CANSA Screening

Women aged 18 to 69 are encouraged to contact a CANSA Care Centre to book a Pap smear or visit their local clinic or health professional. As part of our screening programme, CANSA makes use of the trusted and clinically proven liquid-based cytology method when collecting a sample during a Pap smear. Pap smears help us identify abnormal cells on the cervix (lower womb) caused by HPV which can lead to cancer. Should the result indicate an abnormality, CANSA can help with a referral within the public health care sector or to a medical practitioner.

*According to the National Department of Health’s Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Policy women aged 30 years and older can have three Pap smears in their lifetime at 30, 40 and 50 at public health clinics at no cost (non-symptomatic). If women experience abnormal symptoms, they can request a Pap smear at local government clinics. HIV positive women are eligible for a Pap smear at diagnosis and every three years thereafter if negative for cervical cancer (yearly if screening is positive).

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