AT LEAST 74% of women with cervical cancer seek treatment late, a new study commissioned by the University of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Health ministry has revealed.
The study titled Determinants of Late Stage Presentation for Treatment among Women with Cervical Cancer in Harare, Zimbabwe, 2017, noted that women, who reside in rural areas, were 9,09 times more likely to present late for treatment than those who reside in the urban areas.
“A high proportion of women with cervical cancer, which was 74% presented late for treatment,” the study said.
“Women from the rural areas were associated with presenting late for treatment. Ibrahim et al, 2011 in Sudan concurs with such findings, as it was found that there is a spatial disparity in access to health services among people who reside in urban and rural areas.”
It was also found that women in rural areas try traditional and home remedies before seeking treatment at health facilities.
“Women, who had religious and cultural beliefs that affect seeking health treatment were 1,02 times more likely to present late than those who did not.
“The majority of the women, 56,1% were from the Apostolic sect religion. Sixty percent of the women were from the rural areas. Secondary education level had the highest 71,1% of the study participants. The median age in years of the women was 55 years, while the median age of sexual debut was 16 years,” the study said.
The study also said that regular screenings amongst women resulted in seeking treatment earlier.
“We also found that women, who had been screened, presented early for treatment in our study, which concurs with their findings. However it was reported in these studies that regular screenings also require personal initiative to seek for professional medical care. Cervical cancer screening is a valuable secondary prevention of the disease and it is worrisome when women are not regularly screened,” it was revealed
The study also noted that district hospitals are the first screening contact at the primary care level and treatment facilities are accessed at the tertiary level explaining late stage at presentation of most women.
Cervical cancer has emerged as a public health concern, as it is the fourth leading cancer diagnosed among women worldwide, with an estimated 528 000 new cases each year.
According to the GLOBOCAN Report on cancers of 2015, of these cases, approximately 85% occur in developing countries, and cancer claims approximately 266 000 lives each year with 90% coming from the developing countries.
In Zimbabwe, cervical cancer is the leading of female