Background & objectives: Cervical cancer has a major impact on woman's lives worldwide and one in every five women suffering from cervical cancer belongs to India. Hence the objectives of this study were to find the knowledge of women regarding cervical cancer, to determine screening practices and determinants, and to identify factors for non screening.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Vypin Block of Ernakulam District, Kerala, India where four of the seven Panchayats were randomly chosen. Households were selected by systematic random sampling taking every second house in the tenth ward of the Panchayat till at least 200 women were interviewed. Thus, 809 women were interviewed from four Panchayats.
Results: Mean age of the study population was 34.5 + 9.23 yr. Three fourths of the population (74.2%) knew that cervical cancer could be detected early by a screening test. Majority of respondents (89.2%) did not know any risk factor for cervical cancer. Of the 809 women studied, only 6.9 per cent had undergone screening. One third of the population were desirous of undergoing screening test but had not done it due to various factors. These factors related to knowledge (51.4%) such as no symptoms, not being aware of Pap test, not necessary, etc. This was followed by resource factors (15.1%) like no time, no money, etc. and psychosocial factors (10.2%) included lack of interest, fear of procedure, etc. Independent predictors for doing Pap test included age >35, having knowledge of screening for cervical cancer and Pap test (P<0.05).
Interpretation & conclusions: Specific knowledge on cervical cancer screening is a critical element in determining whether a woman will undergo Pap test in addition to making cancer screening facilities available in the primary health centre.