Knowledge of Palestinian women about cervical cancer warning signs: a national cross- sectional study

Background
Timely presentation and diagnosis of cervical cancer (CC) are crucial to decrease its mortality especially in low- and middle-income countries like Palestine. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge of Palestinian women about CC warning signs and determine the factors associated with good knowledge.

Methods
This was a national cross-sectional study conducted between July 2019 and March 2020 in Palestine. Stratified convenience sampling was used to recruit adult women from hospitals, primary healthcare centers, and public spaces of 11 governorates. A translated-into-Arabic version of the validated CC awareness measure (CeCAM) was used to assess women’s knowledge of 12 CC warning signs.

Results
Of 8086 approached, 7223 participants completed the CeCAM (response rate = 89.3%). A total of 7058 questionnaires were included in the analysis: 2655 from the Gaza Strip and 4403 from the West Bank and Jerusalem (WBJ). The median age [interquartile range] for all participants was 34.0 [24.0, 42.0] years. Participants recruited from the WBJ were older, getting higher monthly income, and having more chronic diseases than those recruited from the Gaza Strip.

The most frequently identified warning sign was ‘vaginal bleeding after menopause’ (n = 5028, 71.2%) followed by ‘extreme generalized fatigue’ (n = 4601, 65.2%) and ‘unexplained weight loss’ (n = 4578, 64.9%). Only 1934 participants (27.4%) demonstrated good knowledge of CC warning signs. Participants from the Gaza Strip were slightly more likely than participants from the WBJ to have a good level of knowledge. Factors associated with having good knowledge included having a bachelor or postgraduate degree, being married, divorced, or widowed as well as knowing someone with cancer.

Conclusion
The overall awareness of CC warning signs was low. Educational interventions are needed to increase Palestinian women’s awareness of CC warning signs.

Essential Package of Palliative Care for Women With Cervical Cancer: Responding to the Suffering of a Highly Vulnerable Population

Women with cervical cancer, especially those with advanced disease, appear to experience suffering that is more prevalent, complex, and severe than that caused by other cancers and serious illnesses, and approximately 85% live in low- and middle-income countries where palliative care is rarely accessible. To respond to the highly prevalent and extreme suffering in this vulnerable population, we convened a group of experienced experts in all aspects of care for women with cervical cancer, and from countries of all income levels, to create an essential package of palliative care for cervical cancer (EPPCCC). The EPPCCC consists of a set of interventions, medicines, simple equipment, social supports, and human resources, and is designed to be safe and effective for preventing and relieving all types of suffering associated with cervical cancer. It includes only inexpensive and readily available medicines and equipment, and its use requires only basic training. Thus, the EPPCCC can and should be made accessible everywhere, including for the rural poor. We provide guidance for integrating the EPPCCC into gynecologic and oncologic care at all levels of health care systems, and into primary care, in countries of all income levels.

Augmented Package of Palliative Care for Women With Cervical Cancer: Responding to Refractory Suffering

The essential package of palliative care for cervical cancer (EPPCCC), described elsewhere, is designed to be safe and effective for preventing and relieving most suffering associated with cervical cancer and universally accessible. However, it appears that women with cervical cancer, more frequently than patients with other cancers, experience various types of suffering that are refractory to basic palliative care such as what can be provided with the EPPCCC. In particular, relief of refractory pain, vomiting because of bowel obstruction, bleeding, and psychosocial suffering may require additional expertise, medicines, or equipment. Therefore, we convened a group of experienced experts in all aspects of care for women with cervical cancer, and from countries of all income levels, to create an augmented package of palliative care for cervical cancer with which even suffering refractory to the EPPCCC often can be relieved. The package consists of medicines, radiotherapy, surgical procedures, and psycho-oncologic therapies that require advanced or specialized training. Each item in this package should be made accessible whenever the necessary resources and expertise are available.

Dataset evaluating the treatment timeliness of cervical cancer in Zambia

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed among women globally. Effective screening routines and early detection are vital in reducing its disease burden and mortality. Several factors can influence the timely detection and treatment of cervical cancer, especially in low middle-income countries where the burden of this disease is highest. The data presented in this paper relates to the research article “Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment delays in the developing world: Evidence from a hospital-based study in Zambia”. The raw and analysed data include the studied patients’ social demographic factors, clinical data concerning the stage and histological subtype of cancer, dates at which the various activities within the cancer treatment pathway occurred and delays to definitive treatment of cervical cancer at Zambia’s only cancer treatment facility. Detailing delays to the treatment of cervical cancer allows recognition of specific points in the cancer treatment pathway requiring intervention to effectively improve cancer care and reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.

Assessing service availability and readiness to manage cervical cancer in Bangladesh

Background
The second most common cancer among females in Bangladesh is cervical cancer. The national strategy for cervical cancer needs monitoring to ensure that patients have access to care. In order to provide accurate information to policymakers in Bangladesh and other low and middle income countries, it is vital to assess current service availability and readiness to manage cervical cancer at health facilities in Bangladesh.

Methods
An interviewer-administered questionnaire adapted from the World Health Organization Service Availability and Readiness Assessment Standard Tool was used to collect cross-sectional data from health administrators of 323 health facilities in Bangladesh. Services provided were categorized into domains and service readiness was determined by mean readiness index (RI) scores. Data analysis was conducted using STATA version 13.

Results
There were seven tertiary and specialized hospitals, 118 secondary level health facilities, 124 primary level health facilities, and 74 NGO/private hospitals included in the study. Twenty-six per cent of the health facilities provided services to cancer patients. Among the 34 tracer items used to assess cancer management capacity of health facilities, four cervical cancer-specific tracer items were used to determine service readiness for cervical cancer. On average, tertiary and specialized hospitals surpassed the readiness index cutoff of 70% with adequate staff and training (100%), equipment (100%), and diagnostic facilities (85.7%), indicating that they were ready to manage cervical cancer. The mean RI scores for the rest of the health facilities were below the cutoff value, meaning that they were not prepared to provide adequate cervical cancer services.

Conclusion
The health facilities in Bangladesh (except for some tertiary hospitals) lack readiness in cervical cancer management in terms of guidelines on diagnosis and treatment, training of staff, and shortage of equipment. Given that cervical cancer accounts for more than one-fourth of all female cancers in Bangladesh, management of cervical cancer needs to be available at all levels of health facilities, with primary level facilities focusing on early diagnosis. It is recommended that appropriate standard operating procedures on cervical cancer be developed for each level of health facilities to contribute towards attaining sustainable developmental goals.

Digital Health Strategies for Cervical Cancer Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Systematic Review of Current Implementations and Gaps in Research

Background:
Nearly 90% of deaths due to cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In recent years, many digital health strategies have been implemented in LMICs to ameliorate patient-, provider-, and health system–level challenges in cervical cancer control. However, there are limited efforts to systematically review the effectiveness and current landscape of digital health strategies for cervical cancer control in LMICs.

Objective:
We aim to conduct a systematic review of digital health strategies for cervical cancer control in LMICs to assess their effectiveness, describe the range of strategies used, and summarize challenges in their implementation.

Methods:
A systematic search was conducted to identify publications describing digital health strategies for cervical cancer control in LMICs from 5 academic databases and Google Scholar. The review excluded digital strategies associated with improving vaccination coverage against human papillomavirus. Titles and abstracts were screened, and full texts were reviewed for eligibility. A structured data extraction template was used to summarize the information from the included studies. The risk of bias and data reporting guidelines for mobile health were assessed for each study. A meta-analysis of effectiveness was planned along with a narrative review of digital health strategies, implementation challenges, and opportunities for future research.

Results:
In the 27 included studies, interventions for cervical cancer control focused on secondary prevention (ie, screening and treatment of precancerous lesions) and digital health strategies to facilitate patient education, digital cervicography, health worker training, and data quality. Most of the included studies were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer studies in other LMIC settings in Asia or South America. A low risk of bias was found in 2 studies, and a moderate risk of bias was found in 4 studies, while the remaining 21 studies had a high risk of bias. A meta-analysis of effectiveness was not conducted because of insufficient studies with robust study designs and matched outcomes or interventions.

Conclusions:
Current evidence on the effectiveness of digital health strategies for cervical cancer control is limited and, in most cases, is associated with a high risk of bias. Further studies are recommended to expand the investigation of digital health strategies for cervical cancer using robust study designs, explore other LMIC settings with a high burden of cervical cancer (eg, South America), and test a greater diversity of digital strategies.

Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment delays in the developing world: Evidence from a hospital-based study in Zambia

Expedited diagnostic processes for all suspected cervical cancer cases remain essential in the effort to improve clinical outcomes of the disease. However, in some developing countries like Zambia, there is paucity of data that assesses factors influencing diagnostic and treatment turnaround time (TAT) and other metrics vital for quality cancer care. We conducted a retrospective hospital-based study at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) for cervical cancer cases presenting to the facility between January 2014 and December 2018. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic characteristics while a generalized linear model of the negative binomial was used to assess determinants of overall TAT. Our study included 2121 patient case files. The median age was 49 years (IQR: ±17) and most patients (n=634, 31%) were aged between 41–50 years. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Cancer stage II (n =941, 48%) was the most prevalent while stage IV (n=103, 5.2%) was the least. The average diagnostic TAT in public laboratories was 1.48 (95%CI: 1.21–1.81) times longer than in private laboratories. Furthermore, referral delay was 55 days (IQR: 24–152) and the overall TAT (oTAT) was 110 days (IQR: 62–204). The age of the patient, HIV status, stage of cancer and histological subtype did not influence oTAT while marital status influenced oTAT. The observed longer oTAT may increase irreversible adverse health outcomes among cervical cancer patients. There is a need to improve cancer care in Zambia through improved health expenditure especially in public health facilities.

Burden of Cervical Cancer in the Eastern Mediterranean Region During the Years 2000 and 2017: Retrospective Data Analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study

Background:
Cervical cancer is a growing health concern, especially in resource-limited settings.

Objective:
The objective of this study was to assess the burden of cervical cancer mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and globally between the years 2000 and 2017 by using a pooled data analysis approach.

Methods:
We used an ecological approach at the country level. This included extracting data from publicly available databases and linking them together in the following 3 steps: (1) extraction of data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study in the years 2000 and 2017, (2) categorization of EMR countries according to the World Bank gross domestic product per capita, and (3) linking age-specific population data from the Population Statistics Division of the United Nations (20-29 years, 30-49 years, and >50 years) and GBD’s data with gross national income per capita and globally extracted data, including cervical cancer mortality and DALY numbers and rates per country. The cervical cancer mortality rate was provided by the GBD study using the following formula: number of cervical cancer deaths × 100,000/female population in the respective age group.

Results:
The absolute number of deaths due to cervical cancer increased from the year 2000 (n=6326) to the year 2017 (n=8537) in the EMR; however, the mortality rate due to this disease decreased from the year 2000 (2.7 per 100,000) to the year 2017 (2.5 per 100,000). According to age-specific data, the age group ≥50 years showed the highest mortality rate in both EMR countries and globally, and the age group of 20-29 years showed the lowest mortality rate both globally and in the EMR countries. Further, the rates of cervical cancer DALYs in the EMR were lower compared to the global rates (2.7 vs 6.8 in 2000 and 2.5 vs 6.8 in 2017 for mortality rate per 100,000; 95.8 vs 222.2 in 2000 and 86.3 vs 211.8 in 2017 for DALY rate per 100,000; respectively). However, the relative difference in the number of DALYs due to cervical cancer between the year 2000 and year 2017 in the EMR was higher than that reported globally (34.9 vs 24.0 for the number of deaths and 23.5 vs 18.1 for the number of DALYs, respectively).

Conclusions:
We found an increase in the burden of cervical cancer in the EMR as per the data on the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Further, we found that the health care system has an increased number of cases to deal with, despite the decrease in the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Cervical cancer is preventable if human papilloma vaccination is taken and early screening is performed. Therefore, we recommend identifying effective vaccination programs and interventions to reduce the burden of this disease.

Predictors of Five-Year Overall Survival in Women Treated for Cervical Cancer at the Kenyatta National Hospital in 2008

Cervical cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed and the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. In many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Kenya cervical cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women. This situation is due to the fact that despite the existence of effective preventive and early detection programs, lack of implementation in LMICs leads many women suffering from the disease to premature death. This study was aimed at estimating the five-year overall survival rates for women with cervical cancer in Kenya. To achieve this, the study employed a retrospective cohort design where medical records of all patients who commenced treatment for cervical cancer in 2008 were reviewed retrospectively over a period of five years from 2008- 2013. Data analysis involved the use of Stata v14.2 to generate descriptive statistics and conduct survival analysis. The five-year overall survival estimate for women with cervical cancer at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in 2008 was found to be 59%. Stage of disease at diagnosis, type of treatment received and whether or not treatment was initiated and completed are the three factors revealed to have the strongest influence on patient survival. Occupation which was used as a proxy for socio-economic status (SES) did not reflect the financial burden imposed on patients seeking treatment. However, the loss to follow up was significantly high at a rate of 82.3%; with no deaths observed after the first year, the overall survival estimate is only accurate over the first year. The results of this study provided insight on the relationship between various socio-demographic and clinical factors and patient outcomes of cervical cancer treatments at KNH. Moreover, it highlighted the ongoing health system challenges surrounding provision of and access to cancer treatment. The results will inform policy makers and health service providers on the quality and accessibility of available cervical cancer treatments as delivered within our healthcare setting

Cervical cancer in Sub‐Saharan Africa: a multinational population‐based cohort study on patterns and guideline adherence of care

Abstract
Background
Cervical cancer (CC) is the most common female cancer in many countries of sub‐Saharan Africa (SSA). We assessed treatment guideline adherence and its association with overall survival (OS).

Methods
Our observational study covered nine population‐based cancer registries in eight countries: Benin, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Random samples of 44‐125 patients diagnosed 2010‐2016 were selected in each. Cancer‐directed therapy (CDT) was evaluated for degree of adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (USA) Guidelines.

Results
Of 632 patients, 15.8% received CDT with curative potential: 5.2% guideline‐adherent, 2.4% with minor and 8.2% major deviations. CDT was not documented or without curative potential in 22%; 15.7% were diagnosed FIGO IV disease. Adherence was not assessed in 46.9% (no stage or follow‐up documented 11.9%) or records not traced (35.1%). The largest share of guideline‐adherent CDT was observed in Nairobi (49%), the smallest in Maputo (4%). In FIGO I‐III patients (n=190), minor and major guideline deviations were associated with impaired OS: hazard rate ratio (HRR) 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.36‐8.37; and HRR 1.97, CI 0.59‐6.56 respectively. CDT without curative potential (HRR 3.88, CI 1.19‐12.71) and no CDT (HRR 9.43, CI 3.03‐29.33) showed substantially worse survival.

Conclusion
We found only one in six cervical cancer patients in SSA received CDT with curative potential. At least one‐fifth and possibly up to two thirds of women never accessed CDT, despite curable disease, resulting in impaired OS. Investments into more radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgical training could change the fatal outcomes of man