Since 1997, over 33 000 women have died of cervical cancer in South Africa. This translates into roughly 3 000 per year. In addition, approximately 7000 women develop the disease every year. In 2000, a national cervical cancer screening policy was developed and put into place. The system uses a screening method to prevent the precancerous lesions from developing into cervical cancer through early detection and treatment. Screening takes place through pap smears with three free pap smears being offered to women in the public service at the ages of 30, 40 and 50.