Awareness of cervical cancer,papanicolaou's smear and its utilisation among women in Delta State, Nigeria.
Background: The widely acknowledged success of the Pap test in reducing incidence and deaths from cervical cancer in industrialised countries is not observed in developing countries. Objectives: To assess the level of knowledge of cervical cancer in a local population of women in Delta State and examine the factors that influence awareness and utilisation of the Papanicolaou (Pap) test. Method: A cross sectional survey of women attending family planning, gynaecological and post-natal clinics at the central hospitals in two urban settlements in Delta State was done through a structured questionnaire probing into their knowledge and utilisation of the Pap test as well as their exposure to major risk factors for cervical cancer. Results: Three hundred and eighty two (382) women participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 22 to 72 years with a mean age of 37.9 years (± 9.837 SD). The modal age group was 30-39 years (39% of the study population). The average age at first intercourse was 19 years while two hundred and seventy four (71.7%) had been exposed to sexual intercourse by age 20 years. Two hundred and eighty two participants (73.8%) had multiple sexual partners. Three hundred and seventy two women (97.4%) had never done a Pap test in their lifetime while two hundred and seventy six (72.3%) had never heard about the test. Out of 106(27.7%) that had heard about the test, only 10(9.4%) had actually ever done the test. Eighty percent (80%) of those that had done the test (8 women) and sixty-nine percent (69%) of those that had heard about the test (73 women) had either tertiary or postgraduate education. The commonest means by which the participants got to know about the test was through a hospital visit (48.1%). Conclusion: Against a background of early initiation into sex, knowledge and utilisation of the Papanicolaou test is poor in the study population. Hospital based health education will go a long way in increasing awareness and possibly utilization of the Pap test.
Keywords: Cervical cancer, Pap test, Awareness, Utilisation, Education.