2. Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, Nigeria.
3. Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria.
Background: Cancer of the cervix is a leading cause of death due to female genital malignancies in developing countries. Early detection through cervical screening is crucial for prevention and treatment.
Objective: To determine the awareness and utilization of screening services for cancer of the cervix amongst women in Makurdi.
Methods: A cross-sectional study using interviewer administered questionnaires to women attending the outpatient gynecological clinic at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, North-Central, Nigeria between March and August 2012.
Results: The average age and parity of respondents was 35±11.2 years and 2.4±2.3 respectively. Most 48.3% were civil servants, Married 89.0% and had post-secondary education (64.5%). About 65% were aware of cancer of the cervix. Fifty one percent were aware of cervical cancer screening. Main source of information was through the mass media (35.5%). Among the 'aware' group for screening services, only 13.6% had utilized the services (X2=12.2, p=0.0004, OR=3.7). Overall, only 7% of the study population have ever screened for the disease. Education significantly affected awareness for both cancer of the cervix (p=0.0001) and screening services (P=0.0002). Reasons for non utilization of services were; Ignorance, absence of screening centres, perceived non necessity, faith in God, prohibitive cost, physician's non recommendation among others.
Conclusion: Most women were aware of cancer of the cervix and screening for the disease but utilization of screening services was very poor. Services should be made available, accessible and affordable to the women while sustaining awareness campaigns.
Keywords: Cervical cancer, screening services, awareness, utilization, pap smear