Monitoring and Evaluation of a Model Demonstration Project for the Control of Cervical Cancer in Nakhon Phanom Province , Thailand


Cancer of the uterine cervix is the second most common cancer in females in the world with about half amillion new patients per year. Since the introduction by Papanicolaou of cervical smear screening, the incidenceof cervical cancer has declined in many developed countries. The decrease in the incidence of and mortalityfrom cervical cancer is mainly due to the organized mass screening using Pap smear programmes. Uterinecervical cancer is the leading cancer among women in Thailand with age-standardized incidence rates of 24.7per 100,000 in 1999. Most cases present at advanced stages with poor prognoses of survival and cure. In thepresent study, cervical cancer screening programme with cervical cytology was organized for Nakhon Phanomprovince, Thailand. The specific objectives were: 1) to evaluate the reduction in incidence and mortality fromcervical cancer in the province by means of an organised low-intensity cervical cytology programme. 2) todemonstrate the different aspects of programme implementation as a potential model for nationwideimplementation. The screening activities were integrated in the existing health care system. Organized screeningfor women in the target population (aged 35-54 years) at 5-year intervals was free of charge. Sample taking wasdone by trained nurses (midwives) and primary health care personnel in the local health care centers. Samplequality was under continuous controlled by the cytology laboratories and pathologists. Confirmation andtreatment were integrated into the normal health care routines. The screening results of the programme, includinghistologically confirmed diagnosis, were registered at the National Cancer Institute using PapReg and CanReg4 programmes. A population-based cancer registry in Nakhon Phanom province was also set up in 1997. In theperiod 1999-2002, 32,632 women aged 35-54 years were screened. Women with low-grade lesions returned forroutine follow-up smears. High-grade preinvasive disease was further evaluated by repeating Pap smear,conization or biopsy and subsequent treatment through surgical removal or ablation. This organized low-intensitycervical cytology programme showed a considerable increase in early carcinoma in situ and CIN II – III casesand should reduce incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer in Nakhon Phanom province in the future.Screening with the Papanicolaou smear plus adequate follow-up diagnosis and therapy can achieve majorreductions in both incidence and mortality rates.