Shocking statistics – but there is some light at the end of the tunnel

Millions of women around the world owe their lives to the Pap smear. The test, together with organised screening programmes has resulted in the decrease in cervical cancer incidences in many countries. 

However, non-attendance still remains a major barrier for the continued effectiveness of these screening programmes (Sung et al, cited by Gok et al, 2010). 

According to a summary report for the World Health Organisation, as an example, an average of 6 000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3000 die from it every year in South Africa.In addition to this, only 20% of women who are eligible for the national screening programme have ever had a Pap smear (Fonn et al.,2002). 

Why offer alternatives to existing cervical cancer screening programmes?

The reasons why most women don’t attend Pap smear screenings differ across public and private health care settings. Investigations into reasons for non-attendance of cervical screening programmes in Europe and India provide some insight into this. 

Barriers in India include the reluctance to test in the absence of any symptoms, apprehension about a screening test for cancer, inability to leave household chores, pre-occupation with family problems, and a lack of approval from husbands. These reasons may give some insight into some poorer settings around the world. 

In Sweden and the Netherlands, the most common reasons for not getting screened are; feeling healthy, a lack of time, discomfort during the examination, insecurity about the smear, feelings of shame, and anxiety about the result of the screening test (Oscarsson, M.G. et al, 2008 and Knops-Dullens, T. Et al., 2007). It is reasonable to say that these reasons could apply to women in similar settings, even the cost of an appointment at a specialist would also appear as a barrier to regular Pap smears. 

UDoTest eliminates many of these barriers by offering women over the age of 25 the opportunity to collect their own sample in the comfort of their home, have it delivered to an accredited laboratory for specific and sensitive human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, while receiving feedback from doctors within 10 working days.