Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide for females and the seventh most common cancer overall. Nigeria, a developing country, ranked tenth globally and fifth in Africa, has a mortality rate of 22.9 deaths per 100,000 with 14,000 new cases being diagnosed annually. In an effort to reduce this mortality rate, this research was undertaken to assess the level of awareness, attitude and practice of common cancer preventive strategies such as screening and the treatment precancerous lesion using LEEP as a case study among women.
A descriptive design using simple random sampling methods with self-administered questionnaires or interview methods (for illiterates) were used to collect data from the sample population. Market women were used (4 major markets in Ibadan) because they provided a sample population of women both in their reproductive and menopausal groups, with various level of literacy. Data was analyzed using the SPSS version 15.
Of the total 100 respondents, only 55% had heard about cervical cancer while just 35% had heard about cervical screening test. 26% cited schools while 16% of the 35% cited mass media as their sources of awareness about the disease. 96% agreed that it was important to be screened for early diagnosis, 90% of all acknowledged the importance of this screening test in reducing deaths from cervical cancer. However, only 4% had ever been screened in their lifetime. Despite this, 74% of total respondents had a positive attitude to being screened while an additional 16% would have loved to be screened if the test was made free. On the role of treatment of precancerous lesions as a means of reducing mortality rate, 26% were aware about the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) while only 40% of that agreed that it was curative. 84% agreed that women should be aware about the procedure, 85% agreed that it could reduce maternal mortality rates from cervical cancer.
Despite limitations in funding, it is suggested that more research work can be done to assess possible ethical beliefs towards contraceptives, HPV vaccine and sexual practices and how they affect cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates.