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Perception and risk factors for cervical cancer among women in northern Ghana

Constance A. Opoku
Edmund Nii Laryea Browne
Kathryn Spangenberg
Cheryl Moyer
David Kolbilla
Katherine J. Gold


Objective: This study assessed the perception of risk of cervical cancer and existence of risk factors for cervical cancer based on five known risk factors among women attending the Tamale Teaching Hospital in Tamale, Ghana.

Methods: A consecutive sample of 300 women was interviewed using a semi structured questionnaire to inquire about risk factors and perception of risk of cervical cancer. Specific risk factors that were explored included early coitarche, multiple sexual partners, polygamous relationships, history of smoking, and having a current partner who had multiple sexual partners.

Results: Sixty-one per cent of women reported that they had no personal risk for cervical cancer. 27% of respondents were in polygamous relationships, and of those, more than half didn’t think they were at an increased risk of cervical cancer. 2 women had a total of ≥ 5 sexual partners in their lifetime and neither believed they were at any risk for cervical cancer. 23% said their current partner had had at least 2 sexual partners in his lifetime, and of those, (61%) thought they were at no risk for cervical cancer. 46% of respondents reported not having any of the risk factors listed in the study. 23% of respondents reported having one risk factor while 21% had two risk factors and 11% had three or more risk factors.

Conclusion: Women’s perception of personal risk for cervical cancer is lower than their actual risk based on the five behavioural risk factors assessed and a lack of knowledge of the personal factors for the disease

Funding: This project was supported by NIH Research Training Grant #R25 TW009345 funded by the Fogarty International Centre, in partnership with several NIH Institutes (NIMH, NIGMS, NHLBI, OAR and OWH)

Keywords: Cervical Cancer, Risk, Perceptions, Northern Ghana

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560