National Data Analysis and Systematic Review for Human Resources for Cervical Cancer Screening in Japan

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Health Policy Section, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medical Technology, Teikyo University, 2-11-1 Kaga, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-1211, Japan.

2 Center for Preventive Medicine, St. Luke’s International Hospital, 8-1 Akashi-cho Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-6591, Japan.

3 Cancer Screening Assessment Section, Division of Screening Assessment and Management, Center for Public Health Science, National Cancer Center, 5-1-1 Tsukiji Cyuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0045, Japan.

4 Center for Public Health Informatics, National Institute of Public Health, 2-3-6 Minami, Wako 351-0197, Japan.

5 Department of Hygiene, Kitazato University School of Medicine, 1-15-1 Kitazato Minami-ku, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, 252-0374 Japan.

6 College of Nursing Art and Science, University of Hyogo Prefecture, 13-71 Kita-Ohji, Akashi 673-8588, Japan.

7 Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Emergency and General Internal, Medicine, Fujita Medical University School of Medicine, Toyoake, Aichi 470-1192, Japan.


Background: Although cervical cancer screening has been performed as a national program since 1983 in Japan, the participation rate has remained below 20%. Equity of access is a basic requirement for cancer screening. However, taking smears from the cervix has been limited to gynecologists or obstetricians in Japan and it might be a barrier for accessibility. We examined the current access and its available human resources for cervical cancer screening in Japan. Methods: We analyzed the number of gynecologists and obstetricians among 47 prefectures based on a national survey. A systematic review was performed to clarify disparity and use of human resources in cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment for cervical cancers in Japan. Candidate literature was searched using Ovid-MEDLINE and Ichushi-Web until the end of January 2020. Then, a systematic review regarding accessibility to cervical cancer screening was performed. The results of the selected articles were summarized in the tables. Results: Although the total number of all physicians in Japan increased from 1996 to 2016, the proportion of gynecologists and obstetricians has remained at approximately 5% over the last 2 decades. 43.6% of municipalities have no gynecologists and obstetricians in 2016. Through a systematic review, 4 English articles and 1 Japanese article were selected. From these 5 articles, the association between human resources and participation rates in cervical cancer screening was examined in 2 articles. Conclusions: The human resources for taking smears for cervical cancer screening has remained insufficient with a huge disparity among municipalities in Japan. To improve accessibility for cervical cancer screening another option which may be considered could be involving general physicians as potential smear takers.


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