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Women's Perception of Cervical Cancer and Its Prevention in Rural Laos
  1. Keokedthong Phongsavan, MD, MSc*,,
  2. Alongkone Phengsavanh, MD, PhD,
  3. Rolf Wahlström, MD, PhD§ and
  4. Lena Marions, MD, PhD*
  1. * Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden;
  2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sethathirath Hospital, Vientiane, Laos;
  3. Department of Postgraduate Study and Training Research, University of Health Sciences, Vientiane, Laos; and
  4. § Division of Global Health (IHCAR), Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Keokedthong Phongsavan, MD, MSc, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska University Hospital, 17176 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail:


Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of women in the world, and it becomes a major cause of cancer mortality in low-income countries. Currently, little is known regarding cervical cancer incidence in Laos, although it is anticipated to be high like in neighboring countries. To be able to develop a screening program in the country, it is essential to explore women's perception of the disease. The purpose of this study was therefore to describe knowledge, awareness, and attitudes regarding cervical cancer among rural women of Laos.

Methods: In a descriptive cross-sectional study, women were interviewed using a structured questionnaire covering sociodemographic factors, knowledge of the disease and its risk factors, awareness, and attitudes toward cervical cancer and its prevention.

Results: Eight hundred women were included in the study, and 58% claimed to know about cervical cancer. Approximately one third (38%) considered themselves to be at risk, but less than 5% had ever had a Papanicolau test. Sixty-two percent believed it was possible to prevent cervical cancer and that vaccination may be a suitable method, but only 14% know about risk factors. Another method for prevention was frequent vaginal douching, which was suggested by 70% of the women. Symptoms like bleeding and discharge were correctly identified as possible indicators of cervical cancer, but only 57 women (7%) knew that an early stage of the disease could be symptom-free. Lack of subjective symptoms was the main reason for women to refrain from gynecological examinations.

Conclusions: This study indicates that rural women in Laos have limited knowledge about cervical cancer and even less about screening and prevention. There is a need to educate the general community about the disease and its prevention.

  • Knowledge
  • Attitudes
  • Cervical cancer
  • Laos

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