Investigating cervical cancer awareness: perceptions of the Female Cancer Programme in Mdantsane, South Africa
Keywords: cervical cancer, cervical cancer screening, awareness, VIA screening
AbstractBackground: The Female Cancer Programme (FCP) is offering women visual inspection with acetic acid screening and if necessary, cryotherapy and medication. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the awareness campaign. Method: This study took the form of a cross-sectional survey among women in Mdantsane. The questionnaires sought information about their knowledge of risk factors and symptoms, their opinions, information sources, reasons for participation and fears of cervical cancer screening. Results: Five hundred and thirty-two questionnaires were collected. Sixty per cent had heard of cervical cancer and 74% of a Pap smear. Forty-three per cent thought the aim of screening was prevention. Forty-three per cent knew irregular blood loss and postcoital bleeding could be symptoms. Forty per cent got their information from a clinic. Fifty-one per cent would participate in a screening programme because of awareness. Thirty per cent did not have any fear of the screening. Eighty-four per cent thought the FCP is important for the future of Mdantsane. Forty per cent acquired their information about cervical cancer screening in a primary health clinic. The opinion about the screening program was positive. Conclusion: Women in the Mdantsane community are unaware of risk factors and symptoms of cervical cancer. Women participate in cervical cancer screening programmes because of increasing awareness of the disease and the wish to stay healthy.
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