Special Issue

Cervical cancer in women living in South Africa: a record linkage study of the National Health Laboratory Service and the National Cancer Registry

27 Jan 2022
Tafadzwa Dhokotera, Serra Asangbeh, Julia Bohlius, Elvira Singh, Matthias Egger, Eliane Rohner, Jabulani Ncayiyana, Gary M Clifford, Victor Olago, Mazvita Sengayi-Muchengeti

Introduction: In countries with high HIV prevalence, it is important to understand the cervical cancer (CC) patterns by HIV status to ensure targeted prevention measures. We aimed to determine the factors associated with CC compared to non-infection related cancer in women living in South Africa.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of women aged 15 years and older diagnosed with CC and non-infection related cancer in the South African public health sector from 2004 to 2014. The National Cancer Registry provided data on cancer, whilst HIV status was determined from routinely collected HIV related data from the National Health Laboratory Service. We explored the association of HIV infection, age, ethnicity and calendar period with CC compared to non-infection related cancer.

Results: From 2004 to 2014, 49,599 women were diagnosed with CC, whilst 78,687 women had non-infection related cancer. About 40% (n = 20,063) of those with CC and 28% (n = 5,667) of those with non-infection related cancer had a known HIV status. The median age at CC diagnosis was 44 years (interquartile range (IQR): 37–52) and 54 years (IQR: 46–64) for HIV positive and negative women, respectively, and for non-infection related cancer, 45 years (IQR: 47–55) and 56 years (IQR: 47–66) for HIV negative and positive women, respectively. Diagnosis of CC was associated with HIV positivity, Black ethnicity, earlier calendar period (2004–2006) and the ages 30–49 years. In comparison with Black women, the odds of CC were 44% less in Coloured women, 50% less in Asian women and 51% less in White women.

Conclusions: HIV positive women presented a decade earlier with CC compared to HIV negative women. A large proportion of women with CC were unaware of their HIV status with a disproportionate burden of CC in Black women. We recommend women attending CC screening facilities to be offered HIV testing so that recommendations for their follow-up visits are given according to their HIV status.

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