Overview of cervical cancer screening practices in the extended Middle East and North Africa countries

Vaccine. 2013 Dec 30;31 Suppl 6:G51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.06.046.


National Organized Cervical Cancer Screening (NOCCS) programs are lacking in most of the "Extended Middle East and North Africa" (EMENA) countries. Consequently, most cervical cancers are diagnosed late and are associated with high mortality. In fact, in most of these countries, national mortality data are unknown due to the absence of population-based mortality registries. Most countries of the EMENA practice more or less limited opportunistic, cytology-based, screening tests, which often lack quality assurance and follow-up care. A few countries, within the initiation of a National Cancer Control Plan, have just started to implement organized screening programs using, for cervical cancer detection, visual inspection with acetic acid (Morocco) or cytology (Turkey). Moreover, most countries of the EMENA lack national guideline, as well as resources for the management of abnormal cytologic screening (or any other screening test). The main obstacle for the implementation of NOCCS is a lack of political understanding to support such public health programs and provide the necessary resources. Other obstacles that hinder the participation of women in cervical screening include a lack of knowledge of the disease, socio-religious and cultural barriers, and geographic and economic difficulties in accessing medical services. These countries are already convinced that prevention of cervical cancers in women who have cervical intraepithelial neoplasia is possible through various screening and treatment algorithms, but most countries still need to invest in well organized programs that can reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality in women. This article forms part of a regional report entitled "Comprehensive Control of HPV Infections and Related Diseases in the Extended Middle East and North Africa Region" Vaccine Volume 31, Supplement 6, 2013. Updates of the progress in the field are presented in a separate monograph entitled "Comprehensive Control of HPV Infections and Related Diseases" Vaccine Volume 30, Supplement 5, 2012.

Keywords: Extended Middle East; Gulf countries; HPV; Middle East; North Africa; Yemen; cervical cancer screening.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Northern / epidemiology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / economics
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Administration / economics
  • Humans
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / etiology*