Uruguay needs to strengthen screening awareness with 69 percent of vaccinated women having cervical screening tests

27 Jul 2023
Uruguay needs to strengthen screening awareness with 69 percent of vaccinated women having cervical screening tests

Research from the Registro Nacional de Cáncer notes that Uruguay has the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates in Latin America. In particular, cervical cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related morbidity among Uruguay's female population.

To further motivate action to combat cervical cancer, BGI Genomics today released its State of Cervical Cancer Awareness Report in Uruguay.

This report assesses the level of knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to cervical cancer screening and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

By examining these key areas, this survey seeks to highlight the associated barriers and opportunities. 1,878 female respondents from six countries and regions were surveyed: Brazil, the Chinese mainland, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, and Uruguay.

In Uruguay, 68.6% of vaccinated women had a screening test which is lower than the global average of 82.1% of vaccinated women. HPV vaccination is a primary prevention intervention and does not eliminate the need for screening later in life since the existing vaccines do not protect against all high-risk HPV types and will have a limited impact on disease in unvaccinated women and those vaccinated at older ages.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

HPV awareness affects cervical cancer screening rates: Among women who are unaware cervical cancer is often caused by HPV, 39.1% of them never undertaken cervical cancer screening which is higher than the global average of 31.2%.

More choice, fewer barriers: Age-specific HPV prevalence was highest in young women (<25 years) at 22%. Yet, 43.5% of women aged 21 to 25 years old - highest among the age groups surveyed - are deterred by meeting a male doctor performing a pap smear. Therefore, women, especially young women, should be offered HPV DNA tests in addition to pap smear tests. 

Vaccination and screening form a virtuous cycle: For women who had the HPV vaccine, 82.1% had a cervical cancer screening, significantly higher than 60.6% of unvaccinated women. For women who had undergone screening, 45.9% received the HPV vaccine, which is higher relative to 22.1% of unscreened women. Informing women who missed national vaccination programs about where and when they could get vaccinated and screened is vital.

"Early cervical cancer detection is vital to save lives and eventually eliminate this dreaded disease in line with WHO's global strategy," said Zhang Lin, BGI Genomics Senior Product Manager. "This study shows increased awareness of women could be the missing link to boost vaccination and screening rates further."

Source: BGI Genomics