Barriers to Cervical Cancer and Breast Cancer Screening Uptake in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Document Type : Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

2 Department of Population Sciences, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Background: Cervical cancer (CCa) and breast cancer (BCa) are the two leading cancers in women worldwide. Early detection and education to promote early diagnosis and screening of CCa and BCa greatly increases the chances for successful treatment and survival. Screening uptake for CCa and BCa in low and middle - income countries (LMICs) is low, and is consequently failing to prevent these diseases. We conducted a systematic review to identify the key barriers to CCa and BCa screening in women in LMICs. Methods: We performed a systematic literature search using Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, CINHAL Plus, and Google scholar to retrieve all English language studies from inception to 2015. This review was done in accordance with the PRISMA-P guidelines. Results: 53 eligible studies, 31 CCa screening studies and 22 BCa screening studies, provided information on 81,210 participants. We found fewer studies in low-income and lower - middle - income countries than in upper - middle - income countries. Lack of knowledge about CCa and BCa, and understanding of the role of screening were the key barriers to CCa and BCa screening in LMICs. Factors that are opportunities for knowledge acquisition, such as level of education, urban living, employment outside the home, facilitated CCa and BCa screening uptake in women in LMICs. Conclusions: Improvements to CCa and BCa screening uptake in LMICs must be accompanied by educational interventions which aim to improve knowledge and understanding of CCa and BCa and screening to asymptomatic women. It is imperative for governments and health policy makers in LMICs to implement screening programmes, including educational interventions, to ensure the prevention and early detection of women with CCa and BCa. These programmes and policies will be an integral part of a comprehensive population-based CCa and BCa control framework in LMICs.


Main Subjects