Cancer profiles 2020 head

February 2020

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Americas, with an estimated 3.8 million people diagnosed, and 1.4 million people dying from the disease, in 2018.

The most common cancers in men are prostate (21.7%), lung (9.5%), and colorectal (8.0%).  Among women, the most common cancers are breast (25.2%), lung (8.5%), and colorectal (8.2%).

Cancer can be prevented and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and palliative care.

The most common modifiable risk factors for cancer, which are shared with many other noncommunicable diseases, are:

  • tobacco use
  • harmful use of alcohol
  • low fruit and vegetable intake
  • lack of physical activity

In Latin America and the Caribbean, cervical cancer continues to be among the most common cancers in women, and it can be prevented through HPV vaccination, screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. 

If no further action is taken, it is anticipated that by 2030, the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer will increase by 32% to more than 5 million people each year in the Americas, largely due to the aging population, changing lifestyles and exposure to cancer risk factors.

Country profiles

Campaign: It is time to end cervical cancer


Cervical cancer can be prevented. The HPV vaccine and the screening and treatment of precancerous lesions are essential interventions to achieve this goal. To success in getting women and girls access to vaccination and screening, everyone´s participation and support is needed: health providers, women, parents, teachers and the whole community.

PAHO has elaborated this series of booklets aiming to provide clear information and answer frequently asked questions on HPF and cervical cancer. They are part of the campaign "It is time to end cervical cancer", and each one addresses a different public: women, parents, teachers and health personnel.



curso-cancer horizontal ENG OKThe virtual course on comprehensive cervical cancer control is designed to promote education and training for health providers in the prevention and control of cervical cancer. The course modules are organized around the natural history of the disease, covering aspects related to primary prevention through vaccination against HPV and the detection and treatment of precancerous lesions. The course also addresses aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of invasive cervical cancer, as well as the provision of palliative care.

Furthermore, the course addresses community mobilization for the use of preventive cancer services for cancer and provides information on organizing preventive services, and on organizing programs for cervical cancer control. The course is currently available in both English and Spanish.

Who the course is for

This is a free course aimed at health sector workers directly involved in the management of cervical cancer. It is especially useful for medical and nursing teams working at the primary care level and for students in programs such as medicine, nursing, and public health. Managers of health programs can also benefit from this course.


An introductory section and 10 modules are organized as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Module 1. Key concepts of cervical cancer
  • Module 2. HPV vaccination for cervical cancer prevention
  • Module 3. Programmatic aspects of HPV vaccination
  • Module 4. Cervical cancer screening
  • Module 5. Diagnosis and treatment of precancerous cervical lesions
  • Module 6. Programmatic aspects of cervical cancer screening and treatment of precancerous lesions
  • Module 7. Diagnosis and treatment of invasive cervical cancer
  • Module 8. Palliative care
  • Module 9. Community mobilization, education, and counselling
  • Module 10. Establishing a cervical cancer prevention and control program


Self-learning on the PAHO Virtual Campus for Public Health.

Estimated time to complete the course: about 40 hours, including evaluations at the end of each module. Participants who satisfactorily complete the course will receive a certificate from PAHO.

Access to the course

Click on the link below to access the virtual course on comprehensive cervic al cancer control


That link takes you to the course introductory page in the Virtual Campus. To register, you will be asked to login your account in the Virtual Campus, or creating one. Sometimes your browser may take you directly to the page to initiate the session in the Virtual Campus, or to create an account, prior showing the content of the course.

The course can be found in the Self-learning Courses section of the Virtual Campus for Public Health.

Campus virtual Salud Publica

Virtual course on visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and cryotherapy for prevention of cervical cancer

VC CACUThis course presents the essential aspects of carrying out the VIA test and cryotherapy.

This course is available in Spanish only.

Access to the IVAA course

Cervical cancer

In the Region of the Americas, more than 83,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Many of them are diagnosed in advanced stages of the disease and do not have access to a treatment that could cure them or prolong their lives. As a consequence, every year some 28,000 women die of this disease and, without urgent action, the number of deaths could increase by almost 60% by 2030. In the last three decades, cervical cancer rates have declined in most of the developed world, largely as a result of screening and treatment programs. In Latin America, some countries have succeeded in reducing their incidence rates, while rates have increased or remained steady in others.

More information

Virtual course on visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and cryotherapy for prevention of cervical cancer

This course presents the essential aspects of carrying out the VIA test and cryotherapy.

This course is available in Spanish only.

Access to the IVAA course

Cervical cancer is preventable. It is one of the most common cancers among women in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its primary cause is the infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). The HPV vaccine and the screening and treatment of precancerous lesions can prevent cervical cancer.

HPV vaccine

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The vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is effective and safe. Protects against infection with HPV, which causes cervical cancer.


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All adult women should undergo periodic cervical cancer screening to detect lesions in the cervix that, if left untreated, can develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer treatment

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Cervical cancer can be treated effectively if detected early. The treatment options for invasive cancer are surgery, radiotherapy, and in a minor extent, chemotherapy.

Messages for the World Cancer Day 2016-2018 campaign, under the theme of "We can. I can" seek to explore how everyone - as a collective or as individuals - can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. It is the right and the duty of every one of us, individuals, organizations and governments to do everything that is in our hands to lower the impact of this epidemic.

Find below a set of posters, social media graphic cards and Facebook and Twitter covers that you can download and share within your networks.

Social Media Cards

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Graphic design by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

Social Media Covers

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Poster and banners

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