More Than A Third Of Czech Women Refuse Cervical Cancer Screening

The research was conducted by experts from the National Research Institute on the Socio-Economic Impact of Systemic Diseases and Risks (SYRI) Photo Credit: Freepik

Brno, Sept. 25 (BD) – More than a third of Czech women refuse to be screened regularly for cervical cancer, despite the fact that it is easily available in the Czech health care system. The most common reasons for avoiding the examination are fear of the diagnosis or the examination itself or the fact that they are not experiencing any symptoms. Refusal of the examination is more prevalent among women with lower education levels, single women, and elderly women.

More than 900 women participated in the survey, of which 36.7% said they do not take part in preventive screening for one of the most serious cancers. “The most common barriers to participation in screening were the perceived absence of symptoms for 36.3% of the respondents, fear of diagnosis for 23% and fear of being screened, which we observed in one fifth of the women,” said Michala Lustigova of SYRI, who conducted the survey together with Anna Altová. On the other hand, accessibility in terms of location or time was only mentioned in a handful of responses as a reason for not participating in the examination.

Women who undergo preventive examinations differed statistically significantly from those who refused examinations for all socio-demographic characteristics studied, including age, education, marital status and household composition. “Less educated women, women living without a partner compared to married women living with a partner, and older women compared to younger women participate less in screening,” explains SYRI’s Anna Altová.

Cancer screening has long been regarded as one of the effective methods for early detection of cancer, as numerous scientific studies have shown. It has been shown that a large proportion of cervical cancer deaths are preventable through screening. The reduction in mortality ranges from 41% to 92%. 

Since 2008, regular screening has been carried out annually in the Czech Republic for women from the age of 15. Although this is a relatively well-established method, participation is still relatively low, at around 50%, according to data from health insurance companies.

According to the experts, it is necessary to continue educating the entire female population: ‘We must emphasise that people in the early stages of cancer often do not even feel the symptoms. It is also necessary to focus on increasing trust in doctors and reducing the fear of examinations such as cervical smears. For a certain spectrum of the population, self-sampling methods may be more acceptable,” said Lustigova.

Cancer prevention is traditionally highlighted by the global event World GO Day. Throughout the month of September, it is accompanied by the colour purple and the ribbon symbol for all cancer diagnoses. The main idea is to express solidarity with women fighting gynaecological cancer and, in particular, to emphasise the importance of prevention. The event also emphasises the fact that cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. 

Approximately 800 cases are diagnosed each year in the Czech Republic and around 300 women die from this disease. Regular check-ups are the easiest thing women can do for their health.

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