Cervical cancer risk factors and feasibility of visual inspection with acetic acid screening in Sudan
Ahmed Ibrahim1, Vibeke Rasch2, Eero Pukkala3, Arja R Aro1
1Unit for Health Promotion Research, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark; 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark; 3Institute for Statistical and Epidemiological Cancer Research, Finnish Cancer Registry, Helsinki, Finland
Objectives: To assess the risk factors of cervical cancer and the feasibility and acceptability of a visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) screening method in a primary health center in Khartoum, Sudan.
Methods: A cross-sectional prospective pilot study of 100 asymptomatic women living in Khartoum State in Sudan was carried out from December 2008 to January 2009. The study was performed at the screening center in Khartoum. Six nurses and two physicians were trained by a gynecologic oncologist. The patients underwent a complete gynecological examination and filled in a questionnaire on risk factors and feasibility and acceptability. They were screened for cervical cancer by application of 3%–5% VIA. Women with a positive test were referred for colposcopy and treatment.
Results: Sixteen percent of screened women were tested positive. Statistically significant associations were observed between being positive with VIA test and the following variables: uterine cervix laceration (odds ratio [OR] 18.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.64–74.8), assisted vaginal delivery (OR 13.2; 95% CI: 2.95–54.9), parity (OR 5.78; 95% CI: 1.41–23.7), female genital mutilation (OR 4.78; 95% CI: 1.13–20.1), and episiotomy (OR 5.25; 95% CI: 1.15–23.8). All these associations remained statistically significant after adjusting for age, educational level, employment, and potential confounding factors such as smoking, number of sexual partners, and use of contraceptive method. Furthermore, the VIA screening method was found to be feasible and acceptable to participants.
Conclusion: This pilot study showed that women who have uterine cervix laceration, assisted vaginal delivery, female genital mutilation, or episiotomy are at an increased risk of cervical cancer. It also showed that VIA is a feasible and acceptable cervical cancer screening method in a primary health care setting.
Keywords: cervical cancer, screening, visual inspection, acetic acid, feasibility
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