Lack of Understanding of Cervical Cancer

Lack of Understanding of Cervical Cancer and Screening Is the Leading Barrier to Screening Uptake in Women at Midlife in Bangladesh: Population-Based Cross-Sectional Survey


Cervical cancer (CCa) is the second most common cancer among women in Bangladesh. The uptake of CCa screening was less than 10% in areas where screening has been offered, so we investigated the awareness of CCa and CCa screening, and factors associated with women’s preparedness to be screened.


A nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of women aged 30–59 years was conducted in 7 districts of the 7 divisions in Bangladesh, using a multistage cluster sampling technique. Factors associated with the awareness of CCa and screening uptake were investigated separately, using multivariable logistic regression.


On systematic questioning, 81.3% and 48.6% of the 1,590 participants, whose mean age was 42.3 (±8.0) years, had ever heard of CCa and CCa screening, respectively. Having heard of CCa was associated with living in a rural area (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.26-0.67), being 40–49 years old (OR: 1.59; 95% CI: 1.15-2.0), having no education (OR: 0.25; 95% CI: 0.16-0.38), and being obese (OR: 2.04; 95% CI: 1.23-3.36). Of the 773 women who had everheard of CCa screening, 86% reported that they had not been screened because they had no symptoms and 37% did not know screening was needed. Only 8.3% had ever been screened. Having been screened was associated with being 40–49 years old (OR: 2.17; 95% CI: 1.19-3.94) and employed outside the home (OR: 3.83; 95% CI: 1.65-8.9), and inversely associated with rural dwelling (OR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.30-0.98) and having no education (OR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.10-0.85).


Lack of awareness of CCa and of understanding of the concept of screening are the key barriers to screening uptake in women at midlife in Bangladesh. Targeted educational health programs are needed to increase screening in Bangladesh with the view to reducing mortality.

Implications for practice

This is the first nationwide and population-based study in Bangladesh to collect detailed information pertaining to the awareness of cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening, and factors associated with women’s preparedness to undergo screening. Rather than cultural and religious barriers, lack of awareness and knowledge of cervical cancer and screening present the primary barriers to screening uptake. The results highlight the urgent need for health education programs that have the potential to increase cervical cancer awareness and screening uptake, and reduce cervical cancer mortality.

Islam RM, Bell RJ, Hossain MB, Davis SR. The Oncologist 2015