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Original Research

Adherence to cervical and breast cancer programs is crucial to improving screening performance

Submitted: 3 June 2009
Revised: 4 August 2009
Published: 22 September 2009

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Author(s) : Mauad EC, Nicolau SM, Moreira LF, Haikel Jr RL, Longatto-Filho A, Baracat EC.

Citation: Mauad EC, Nicolau SM, Moreira LF, Haikel Jr RL, Longatto-Filho A, Baracat EC.  Adherence to cervical and breast cancer programs is crucial to improving screening performance. Rural and Remote Health 9: 1241. (Online) 2009. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Cervical and breast cancer are the most common malignancies among women worldwide. Effective screening can facilitate early detection and dramatically reduce mortality rates. The interface between those screening patients and patients most needing screening is complex, and women in remote areas of rural counties face additional barriers that limit the effectiveness of cancer prevention programs. This study compared various methods to improve compliance with mass screening for breast and cervical cancer among women in a remote, rural region of Brazil.
Methods:  In 2003, a mobile unit was used to perform 10 156 mammograms and Papanicolaou smear tests for women living in the Barretos County region of São Paulo state, Brazil (consisting of 19 neighbouring cities). To reach the women, the following community outreach strategies were used: distribution of flyers and pamphlets; media broadcasts (via radio and car loudspeakers); and community healthcare agents (CHCAs) making home visits.
Results:  The most useful intervention appeared to be the home visits by healthcare agents or CHCAs. These agents of the Family Health Programme of the Brazilian Ministry of Health reached an average of 45.6% of those screened, with radio advertisements reaching a further 11.9%. The great majority of the screened women were illiterate or had elementary level schooling (80.9%) and were of ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ socioeconomic class (67.2%).
Conclusions:  Use of a mobile screening unit is a useful strategy in developing countries where local health systems have inadequate facilities for cancer screening in underserved populations. A multimodal approach to community outreach strategies, especially using CHCAs and radio advertisements, can improve the uptake of mass screening in low-income, low-educational background female populations.

Key words:   Brazil, breast cancer, cancer screening, cervical cancer, early detection, early diagnosis, mobile unit.

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