Background: Cancer of the cervix is the most common cancer of the female genital tract and accounts for about two hundred and fifty thousand deaths yearly most of which occur in the developing countries. It has assumed greater prominence with the decrease in deaths due to infective causes and the increase in the incidence of HIV/AIDS which is a predisposing factor. A significant drop in its incidence has been recorded in the developed countries as a result of intensive program of cervical screening. This study determines the level of awareness and uptake of cervical screening in Owerri, South Eastern part of Nigeria.
Method: This is a cross sectional study in which self administered questionnaires returned by eight hundred and forty six respondents were analysed using simple percentages.
Results: The level of awareness of cervical screening was 52.8% (447), while 7.1% (60) had ever done the test. The major sources of information about cervical smear were hospital/health facilities (31.3%) and friends (30.9%). The most common reasons given for not doing the test were lack of awareness 390 (46.1%), no need for it 106 (12.5%) and fear of a bad result 98 (11.6%).
Conclusion: The level of awareness of cervical screening is low and worse still, is the level of uptake at the present level of uptake no significant impact will be made on the incidence of cervical cancer which needs to be reduced. A national cervical smear screening policy is advocated but in the interim, greater public education and the greater use of opportunistic screening by physicians should be vigorously pursued.