Introduction: The present study was conducted with the objective of examining descriptive epidemiologicaland pathological characteristics of cancer cervix in Karachi South, an all urban district population of Karachi,Pakistan. Methodology: A total of 74 cases of cancer cervix, ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases10th Revision) category C53 were registered at the Karachi Cancer Registry, for Karachi South, during a 3 yearperiod, 1st January, 1995 to 31st December 1997.
Results: The age standardized incidence rate (ASR) world andcrude incidence rate (CIR) per 100,000 were 6.81 (5.2, 8.43) and 3.22 (2.49 to 3.96). Cancer cervix accounted forapproximately 3.6% of all cancers in females and was the sixth malignancy in hierarchy. The mean age of thecancer cases was 53.27 years [standard deviation (SD) 11.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 50.58, 55.96; range(R) 32-85 years)]. The distribution by religion was Muslims (90.5%), Christians (8.1%) and Hindus (1.4%).There were no cases reported in Parsees. The frequency distribution by ethnicity was Urdu speaking Mohajirs(20.3%), Punjabis (17.6%), Gujrati speaking Mohajirs (4.1%), memon Mohajirs (8.1%), Sindhis (10.8%), Baluchs(8.1%), Pathans (5.4%) and Afghan migrants (2.7%). The ethnicity was not known in approximately a fourth(23.0%) of the cases.The socio-economic distribution was 27.0% financially deprived class, 24.4% lower middleclass and 48.7% upper middle and affluent classes. The majority of the women were married (86.5%); a smallernumber were unmarried (2.7%) or widows (10.8%). The age-specific curves showed a gradual increase in riskfrom the fourth up till the seventh decade, followed by an actual apparent decrease in risk after 64 years of age.The peak incidence was observed in the 60-64 year age group. The morphological categorization was squamouscell carcinoma (86.5%), adenocarcinoma (10.9%) and adenosquamous carcinoma (2.6%). The majority ofcases presented with moderately differentiated or grade 2 lesions (45.9%). There were no in-situ cases.Approximately half the cancers (58.1%) had spread regionally and 8.1% to a distant site at the time of diagnosis.Odds ratios (OR) were calculated for socioeconomic residential categories, religion, ethnicity, age groups andeducation. The OR for socioeconomic residential categories ranged between 0.69 and 2.9 with a marginallyhigher risk in the lower [OR 2.09 (95% CI .97; 4.49)] and lower middle class [OR 2.08 (95%CI 0.95; 4.58)].Hindus [OR 1.2 (95% CI 0.18; 2.2)] had a slightly higher risk then the Muslims [OR 0.14 (95% CI 0.17; 1.2)]. Ahigher risk was also observed for Christians [OR 7.76 (95% CI 1.74; 34.5)].
Conclusion: The incidence of cervicalcancer in Karachi South (1995-97) reflects a low risk population with a late presentation and a high stagedisease at presentation. It is suggested that cervical screening if implemented should focus on once a life timemethodology involving 36-45 year old women. This should be combined with HPV vaccination for the youngand public health education for all. A regular cervical screening program would require mobilization ofconsiderable financial, structural and human resources along with training for personnel. This may burden thealready stretched health resources of a developing country.