Knowledge and practice of cervical cancer screening using pap smear test amongst women in Nairobi. A case study of women attending MCH at Kayole sub-district Hospital
MetadataShow full item record
Cervical cancer is the most preventable form of cancer, yet it is becoming increasingly common among women in Kenya. It is the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in developing countries with up to 80% of patients presenting with advanced disease (Bakheit et al 2004). Although the success of the pap smear in reduction of cervical cancer has been reported in several parts of the world especially in the developed countries, its utilization in Kenya remains very low amongst women in Kenya. The main objective of this study was to assess the awareness and utilization levels of cervical cancer screening services amongst women of reproductive age seeking MCH/FP services at Kayole Sub-District Hospital, Nairobi. In addition, the study assessed the extent of utilization of the pap smear screening services amongst women in the study group and explored factors that influence its utilization. The main study assumption was that peoples perceived susceptibility to a certain disease directly influence their health seeking behaviour towards prevention or treatment of the disease. The research design was a facility-based survey. The target population was women of reproductive age (16 to 50years). Qualitative data was collected through key informant 'interviews while quantitative data was collected though interviewer administered questionnaires. Secondary data was gathered through literature review of existing journals, publications and other authentic documents available. Purposive sampling was used whereby all clients seeking MCH/FP services in the fourth week of July 2009 at this hospital who gave their consent were enrolled in the study. After collection, data was processed and analyzed using Epidata, SPSS and excel computer packages and findings were in tables and charts for ease of comprehension. The study found that many women were not aware of cervical cancer and the benefits of Pap' smear cancer screening as only 58 respondents (58%) were aware of cervical cancer while 42 respondents (42%) had never heard of the disease. Out of those who were aware, only 32 respondents (32%) were aware of Pap smear screening. The level of Pap smear screening was even lower with only 12 respondents (12%) indicating that they had ever undergone the test. Besides, those who were aware of cervical cancer did not have accurate information on the cause. mode of transmission. prevention and treatment of the disease. Many women expressed a lack of personal susceptibility to cervical cancer and therefore believed it was unnecessary for them to have a Pap smear test. In addition. many women (60% of those who were aware of the disease) viewed cervical cancer as a terminal illness with no hope for a cure. even when detected in the early stages and 63% said death was a sure outcome. The study recommends that the Ministry of Health together with other stakeholders need to embark on intensive awareness creation campaigns on cervical cancer to complement health education in health facilities. This should be done not only in Embakasi division but countrywide as it is clear that the low utilization of pap smear services is based on lack of knowledge about cervical cancer. the effectiveness of screening and the risk factors of the disease. Efforts to promote cervical cancer screening uptake among women should focus on informing women of their susceptibility to cervical cancer, challenging beliefs of nonvulnerability to the disease and encouraging a belief that active and regular screening can detect cervical cancer at the pre-cancerous stage, hence enabling the early treatment and prevention of cancer development. In addition, the pessimistic attitude towards cancer and death needs to be addressed. The belief that death is inevitable when cancer is present has been identified as a barrier to participation in cancer screening for early detection and treatment. Women need to be demystified about these misconceptions through health education and promotion. The government also needs to put in place clear policies and allocate enough funding to curb the rising trends of cervical cancer in the country.