Outcomes from 8 years of cervical cancer screening at a rural screen-and-treat site in northern Tanzania

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2023 Feb;160(2):604-611. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.14429. Epub 2022 Sep 10.

Abstract

Objective: To examine screening outcomes for a rural screen-and-treat site as well as the referral completion rate, outreach programming, and screening costs.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional analysis of demographic information and screening outcomes for all women screened at a rural screen-and-treat site between August 2011 and December 2018 was conducted. Referral completion rate for women with suspected cervical cancer was calculated for 2018.

Results: A total of 10 157 screenings were conducted during the study period. Median age was 35 years and median parity was 5. In all, 545 (5.35%) women were positive on visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA+), and 461 (91.1%) of 506 eligible women received cryotherapy. In 2018, 93 women were referred for suspected cancer to the zonal referral center, but only 10 (10.8%) presented for treatment. Mean screening cost was US$ 6.62 per person.

Conclusion: VIA+ rate was comparable to rates at urban sites in Tanzania, and outreach was an important component of screening. In contrast to other reports, few women suspected of having cancer reached treatment after being referred. Although the low cost of screening highlights the feasibility of rural screen-and-treat sites, additional research is needed to improve completion of referrals to a higher level of care.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa; Tanzania; cervical cancer; screen-and-treat.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tanzania
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / therapy