The Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening

The Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening

The Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening examines cervical cancer as a whole, signs and symptoms to look out for, screening and treatment options available for you today.

First off, cervical cancer is the most common malignancy among women in the developing world with over 85 percent of worldwide figure occurring in these settings  Cervical cancer is normally present in the lower-most part of the uterus ( womb )that opens up into the vagina.

Effective strategies for cervical cancer screening and treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, a precursor to cancer, have been in place for more than 70 years and, where applied, have dramatically reduced the incidence of and mortality from this disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

While most women do not see any signs at all, some do see in the early stages of the disease. If you see any of the signs below, please kindly report to your doctor.

  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after intercourse, increase in vaginal discharge, douching, or a pelvic examination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Unexplained, persistent back pain

Cervical cancer screening has decreased the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Screening Methods:

  • Evaluation with the Papanicolaou (Pap) test (cytology) and
  • Testing for high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV).


However, these standard strategies are often not possible in developing settings due to economic and other infrastructure issues.


Cervical cancer comprises 12 percent of all cancers among women worldwide and is the fourth most common cancer after breast, lung, and colon cancer.

Over 85 percent of new cases are diagnosed in the developing world, and, in most of these countries, it is the most common cancer in women after breast cancer.

Barriers To Cervical Cancer Screening 

Barriers to implementing programs for cervical cancer prevention include competing for health care demands and economic, social, and political issues.

The principal health care issues that compete with cervical cancer prevention are maternal and infant mortality and infectious diseases (eg, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV infection).

In 2002, there were 510,000 deaths (0.9 percent of the total deaths) attributed to maternal conditions and 2.4 million deaths (4.3 percent of total deaths) due to perinatal conditions worldwide.

Although cervical cancer is prevalent, it caused fewer deaths (239,000 deaths; 0.4 percent of total deaths) In addition, with the scarcity of health care resources, existing health care services tend to focus on curative, rather than preventive, health care.


Read Also: 18 Things To Know About Cervical Cancer


Approach To Cervical Cancer Screening 

In countries that have introduced successful cervical cancer screening programs, cervical cancer has become a relatively rare disease.

Cytologic screening with or without human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing has led to vast improvements in prevention and early detection of cervical cancer.

Evidence of the effectiveness of this approach has led to the adoption of cervical cytology screening in all developed and some developing nations.

The standard approach to cervical cancer screening in developed settings is to use cytology, typically in some combination with HPV testing, followed with colposcopy, and then treatment based on the results of colposcopic diagnosis.

Unfortunately, due to the barriers discussed in the preceding section, the success of the approach used in developed countries has not been replicated in developing countries.


Cytology-based screening programs require a relatively sophisticated and costly infrastructure, including highly trained personnel, built-in quality control, ongoing training of staff, adequately equipped laboratories, and functional referral systems to communicate results of the test to women. HPV testing is costly, laboratory-based, and when used as a triage test, adds an extra processing step to cervical cytology. Women, in turn, need to be able to return for further testing if indicated.

Additionally, colposcopy requires a level of clinical expertise typically found only in tertiary health care facilities, if available at all, and histology requires a laboratory infrastructure and trained pathologists, all of which are in short supply in poor countries. HPV vaccines, another approach for cervical cancer prevention, will be discussed separately in a later article

General principles

The general principles of cervical screening will be discussed in a later article as well as Screening frequency and patient age — Women in developed countries are often screened for cervical cancer every one to three years. However, this screening frequency is not possible in most low-resource settings.


Decisions regarding screening frequency must be made based upon available resources. In programs in which women will receive screening only once or twice in a lifetime, screening should focus on the age range that will result in the largest reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality.

Benefits of Cervical Cancer Screening 

1) Reduction in the incidence of cervical cancer

2) Reduction in deaths from cervical cancer

3) Higher cure rates of cervical cancer

4) Reduction in the risk of invasive cervical cancer Cervical cancer screening detects precancerous lesions and early-stage disease, the treatment of which decreases the incidence of cervical cancer and cervical cancer mortality, respectively.


Multiple studies showed reductions in cervical cancer incidence and mortality as cervical cytology screening was implemented, leading to the adoption of screening programs in all developed and many developing nations.


The United States adopted screening with the Pap test in the 1950s, and by the mid-1980s cervical cancer incidence decreased by 70 percent. Cervical cancer incidence and mortality in the United States has continued to decrease since the 1970s. Furthermore, in observational studies, screening is associated with higher cure rates and decreased risk of invasive cervical cancer



A screening test followed in the same visit by treatment of positive results is referred to as a “screen and treat” or “see and treat” protocol. This approach is only possible with screening tests that produce an immediate result.


Read Also: 18 Things To Know About Cervical Cancer


Free Cervical Cancer Screening in Lagos

To mark the world cancer day Outreach Women and Children Hospital is offering a free cervical cancer screening for women between the ages of 18 – 50.

All you need to do is to walk into any of our branches in Lagos at the date, and time specified below.

Date: Monday 4th -Friday 8th February 2019

Time: 8:00AM-6:00PM

Festac Outreach Women and Children Hospital
4TH Avenue by 3rd Avenue Junction

Call: +234 8067644630
+234 8183803643
+234 8185912878

Outreach Women and Children Hospital
125 Okota Road. Opp Slot. Okota. Isolo. Lagos.
Call: 014532865, +234 8068838225

Satellite Town
Outreach Specialist Hospital
23. Community Road, Beside First Bank,Abule ado. Satellite Town
Call: 07018179085 08035187189

Please share with your friends and anyone that might need this.

By Dr David Olubukunmi Jesudemi

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