Population risk factors for late-stage presentation of cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa

23 Jan 2018

Background: Cervical cancer is the most prevalent malignancy in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with many women only seeking professional help when they are experiencing symptoms, implying late-stage malignancy and higher mortality rates. This ecological study assesses population-level exposures of SSA women to the numerous risk factors for HPV infection and cervical cancer, against late-stage presentation of cervical cancer. Materials and Method: A literature review revealed the relevant risk factors in SSA. Open-access databases were mined for variables closely representing each risk factor. A proxy for late-stage presentation was used (ratio of incidence-to-mortality, IMR), and gathered from IARC’s GLOBOCAN 2012 database. Variables showing significant correlation to the IMR were used in stepwise multiple regression to quantify their effect on the IMR. Results: Countries with high cervical cancer mortality rates relative to their incidence have an IMR nearer one, suggesting a larger proportion of late-stage presentation. Western Africa had the lowest median IMR (1.463), followed by Eastern Africa (IMR=1.595) and Central Africa (IMR=1.675), whereas Southern Africa had the highest median IMR (1.761). Variables selected for the final model explain 65.2% of changes seen in the IMR. Significant predictors of IMR were GDP (coefficient = 2.189x10-6, p = 0.064), HIV infection (-1.936x10-3, p = 0.095), not using a condom (-1.347x10-3, p = 0.013), high parity (-1.744x10-2, p = 0.008), and no formal education (-1.311x10-3, p< 0.001). Conclusion: Using an IMR enables identification of factors predicting late-stage cervical cancer in SSA including: GDP, HIV infection, not using a condom, high parity and no formal education.