In Nicaragua, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with an estimated 18.43 deaths per 100,000 females in 2011. Prevention of cervical cancer is largely dependent on Pap testing; however, access is difficult in many Latin American countries due to limited health education and socioeconomic and cultural barriers. The objective of this study was to evaluate the epidemiology and perceptions regarding cervical cancer prevention and awareness in a rural Hispanic community.
Investigators evaluated a rural Nicaraguan community’s perceptions of HPV, Pap tests, and cervical cancer, measured through survey (n=40). A chart review was performed at the main local clinic, which addresses the majority of women’s health needs for the population, in order to gauge baseline community Pap test adherence and cervical cancer rates (n=564).
Preliminary survey data found that 82% of women had previous knowledge of HPV, but basic questions about the disease were answered incorrectly greater than 50% of the time. Baseline chart review data indicated that 88.3% of eligible women had no Pap test data on file, and of those that did, 3% had an abnormal result possibly indicative of malignancy.
The collected data indicates a significant deficit in both knowledge regarding cervical cancer and complete screening coverage in this community. Based on these findings, increased community health promotion would be valuable to educate women in prevention strategies and encourage greater Pap testing rates.