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The author reflects on the disheartening report given by Dr.E. Jean Parboosingh and associates on Canadian screening programs for cervical cancer (see pages 1847 to 1853 of this issue). Although cancer of the cervix is one of the few preventable forms of cancer, little progress has been made toward the establishment of programs to control this disease. Barriers to progress include a lack of priority given to women's health issues, insufficient public awareness of cervical cancer, the absence of vocal lobby groups, poor understanding of the limitations of secondary prevention, uncertainty about professional jurisdiction and the financial commitment of government, a tendency for minutiae to deflect attention from essential aims and the sheer complexity of the task of prevention and control. Unless these barriers are overcome it is unlikely that there will be much progress toward the eradication of cervical cancer in Canada.