Cervical cancer has a high mortality rate worldwide; in Pakistan it kills more than 7000 women every year. Prevention is possible through vaccination against human papilloma virus, the causative agent of cervical cancer, or by screening for premalignant lesions through routine Pap smear tests. We have studied the knowledge and practices regarding cervical cancer, its risk factors, screening and prevention and the role of human papilloma virus vaccination and Pap smear testing, among young women of Karachi.
Information was gathered using a modified version of Cervical Cancer Awareness Measure Toolkit version 2.1 from 384 women aged 15 to 50 with no medical background attending outpatient clinics of AKUH, Karachi. Data entry was done through EpiData and analysis was done using SPSS version 22.0.
Our respondents’ mean age was 30 (±7.6) years. Out of the 61.2% of women who had heard about cervical cancer, 47.0% had heard about Pap smear test and among them, 73% had gotten a Pap test. A total of 25.5% of women out of the 61.2%, knew that a vaccine existed for prevention and out of them only 9.8% had vaccinated against human papilloma virus.
Majority of women in our study belonged to a higher socioeconomic class and were mostly educated but their knowledge and practices regarding prevention and screening of cervical cancer were poor. This reflects that the knowledge levels as a whole would be considerably lower in the city’s general population.