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Implementing visual cervical cancer screening in Senegal: a cross-sectional study of risk factors and prevalence highlighting service utilization barriers

Authors Dykens JA, Linn AM, Irwin T, Peters KE, Pyra M, Traoré F, Touré Diarra M, Hasnain M, Wallner K, Linn P, Ndiaye Y

Received 21 June 2016

Accepted for publication 5 October 2016

Published 27 January 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 59—67


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

J Andrew Dykens,1–4 Annē M Linn,5,6 Tracy Irwin,7 Karen E Peters,8 Maria Pyra,8 Fatoumata Traoré,9 Mariama Touré Diarra,9, Memoona Hasnain,1,10 Katie Wallner,11 Patrick Linn,11 Youssoupha Ndiaye12

1Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine, 2Center for Global Health, 3Institute for Health Research and Policy, 4Cancer Center, Hospital and Health Sciences System, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, USA; 5Master’s International Graduate School Program, Peace Corps, Dakar, Senegal; 6Rutgers School of Nursing, Newark, NJ, 7Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 8School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, USA; 9Regional Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Kédougou, Senegal; 10Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 11Peace Corps, Dakar, 12Regional Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Sédhiou, Senegal

Mariama Touré Diarra passed away on March 21, 2015

Senegal ranks 15th in the world in incidence of cervical cancer, the number one cause of cancer mortality among women in this country. The estimated participation rate for cervical cancer screening throughout Senegal is very low (6.9% of women 18–69 years old), especially in rural areas and among older age groups (only 1.9% of women above the age of 40 years). There are no reliable estimates of the prevalence of cervical dysplasia or risk factors for cervical dysplasia specific to rural Senegal. The goals of this study were to estimate the prevalence of cervical dysplasia in a rural region using visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid (VIA) and to assess risk factors for cervical cancer control.
Patients and methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in which we randomly selected 38 villages across the Kédougou region using a three-stage clustering process. Between October 2013 and March 2014, we collected VIA screening results for women aged 30–50 years and cervical cancer risk factors linked to the screening result.
Results: We screened 509 women; 5.6% of the estimated target population (9,041) in the region. The point prevalence of cervical dysplasia (positive VIA test) was 2.10% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.99–3.21). Moreover, 287 women completed the cervical cancer risk factor survey (56.4% response rate) and only 38% stated awareness of cervical cancer; 75.9% of the screened women were less than 40 years of age.
Conclusion: The overall prevalence of dysplasia in this sample was lower than anticipated. Despite both overall awareness and screening uptake being less than expected, our study highlights the need to address challenges in future prevalence estimates. Principally, we identified that the highest-risk women are the ones least likely to seek screening services, thus illustrating a need to fully understand demand-side barriers to accessing health services in this population. Targeted efforts to educate and motivate older women to seek screenings are needed to sustain an effective cervical cancer screening program.

Keywords: gynecologic cancer, cervical cancer screening, risk factors, implementation, global health, visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid

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