WHO guidelines for screening and treatment of precancerous lesions for cervical cancer prevention

World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO)
Publication date:
01 December 2013


Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) is a premalignant lesion that may exist at any one of three stages: CIN1, CIN2, or CIN3. If left untreated, CIN2 or CIN3 (collectively referred to as CIN2 ) can progress to cervical cancer. Instead of screening and diagnosis by the standard sequence of cytology, colposcopy, biopsy, and histological confirmation of CIN, an alternative method is to use a ‘screen-and-treat’ approach in which the treatment decision is based on a screening test and treatment is provided soon or, ideally, immediately after a positive screening test. Available screening tests include a human papillomavirus (HPV) test, visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), and cytology (Pap test). Available treatments include cryotherapy, large loop excision of the transformation zone (LEEP/LLETZ), and cold knife conization (CKC).

This guideline provides recommendations for strategies for a screen-and-treat programme. It builds upon the existing WHO guidelines: Use of cryotherapy for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (published in 2011) and on the new WHO guidelines for treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2–3 and glandular adenocarcinoma in situ (forthcoming). This guideline is intended primarily for policy-makers, managers, programme officers, and other professionals in the health sector who have responsibility for choosing strategies for cervical cancer prevention, at country, regional and district levels.