Cervical cancer in Latin America

Semin Oncol. 2001 Apr;28(2):188-97. doi: 10.1053/sonc.2001.21966.


Cervical cancer is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In Latin America, the incidence rates in several cities are among the highest worldwide, probably due to a high frequency of risk factors and/or a low screening coverage for cervical cancer. Epidemiologic studies conducted in Latin America (and some in the Caribbean), that have investigated the main risk factors for the disease, as well as screening coverage by Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, were reviewed. The prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection among women with negative Pap smears does not seem to explain the risk observed in Latin American countries. Results of some studies have suggested that reproductive factors and male sexual behavior might be responsible, at least partially, for the high occurrence of cervical cancer in Latin America. Concerning cytology screening, many women have a smear taken regularly (some every year). However, a significant proportion of women, probably those with a high risk of cancer of the cervix, have never had a Pap test. To reduce cervical cancer in these countries, screening programs in Latin America should have a wider coverage, especially reaching those women at higher risk. Semin Oncol 28:188-197.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Risk Factors
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Smears