Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Prevalence and Associated Factors among Women in the South African General Population

Document Type : Research Articles


1 HIV/AIDS/STIs and TB Research Programme, Human Sciences Research Council, Private Bag X41, Pretoria 0001, South Africa.

2 Department of Research & Innovation, University of Limpopo, Sovenga 0727, South Africa.

3 Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research & Engagement, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


Purpose: The aims of the study were to estimate the prevalence of breast and cervical cancer screening among
women in the South African general population and assess associated factors. Methods: Data from a national populationbased
cross-sectional household survey in South Africa in 2012 for 10,831 women aged 30+ years were analysed using
bivariate and multivariable logistic regression. The outcome variables were cervical cancer screening (Papanicolaou
smear test) and breast cancer screening (mammography). Exposure variables were sociodemographic factors, lifestyle
variables, and chronic conditions. Results: The prevalences of Papanicolaou (PAP) smear test and mammography
participation were 52.0% and 13.4%, respectively. On multivariable logistic regression analysis, women with higher
education, those who were non-black African, having medical aid and having chronic conditions were more likely to
undergo a Pap smear test and mammography. Living in rural areas was related to a lower likelihood of receiving both
types of screening. In addition, undertaking moderate or vigorous physical activity was associated with breast cancer
screening. Conclusion: Screening for cervical cancer was relatively high but for breast cancer it was low, despite the
latter being a major public health problem in South Africa. This may be attributed to the limited availability, affordability,
and accessibility of breast cancer screening services among socio-economically disadvantaged individuals There are
some socio-economic disparities in adopting both breast and cervical cancer screening guidelines that could be targeted
by interventions.


Main Subjects