Factors Associated with Loss to Follow-up among Cervical Cancer Patients in Rwanda

Ann Glob Health. 2020 Sep 14;86(1):117. doi: 10.5334/aogh.2722.


Background: Cervical cancer is among the most common cancers affecting women globally. Where treatment is available in low- and middle-income countries, many women become lost to follow-up (LTFU) at various points of care.

Objective: This study assessed predictors of LTFU among cervical cancer patients in rural Rwanda.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of cervical cancer patients enrolled at Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence (BCCOE) between 2012 and 2017 who were either alive and in care or LTFU at 12 months after enrollment. Patients are considered early LTFU if they did not return to clinic after the first visit and late LTFU if they did not return to clinic after the second visit. We conducted two multivariable logistic regressions to determine predictors of early and late LTFU.

Findings: Of 652 patients in the program, 312 women met inclusion criteria, of whom 47 (15.1%) were early LTFU, 78 (25.0%) were late LTFU and 187 (59.9%) were alive and in care. In adjusted analyses, patients with no documented disease stage at presentation were more likely to be early LTFU vs. patients with stage 1 and 2 when controlling for other factors (aOR: 14.93, 95% CI 6.12-36.43). Patients who travel long distances (aOR: 2.25, 95% CI 1.11, 4.53), with palliative care as type of treatment received (aOR: 6.65, CI 2.28, 19.40) and patients with missing treatment (aOR: 7.99, CI 3.56, 17.97) were more likely to be late LTFU when controlling for other factors. Patients with ECOG status of 2 and higher were less likely to be late LTFU (aOR: 0.26, 95% CI 0.08, 0.85).

Conclusion: Different factors were associated with early and later LTFU. Enhanced patient education, mechanisms to facilitate diagnosis at early stages of disease, and strategies that improve patient tracking and follow-up may reduce LTFU and improve patient retention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Lost to Follow-Up
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rwanda / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / therapy

Grants and funding

All data collection and training costs were covered by the by Partners in Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima, Rwanda. Funding and strategic counsel for publication and research mentorship was generously provided by Dr. Stephen Kahn and the Abundance Foundation.