Immigrant Women Less Likely to Have Cervical Cancer Screenings

Low-income South Asian women in Canada least likely to be screened for cervical cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Canadian immigrant women are screened less often for cervical cancer than native-born Canadian women, according to a new study from St. Michael's Hospital.

Low-income South Asian women past age 50 are among those least likely to get screened. Only about one in five of this population had submitted to a recent Pap test, according to the study.

Canadian-born women living in high-income neighborhoods, by contrast, were more likely to be up-to-date on cervical-cancer screenings with 79 percent of the women meeting Pap test recommendations (at least one every three years) made by federal and provincial guidelines.

The study compared rates for 2.9 million women (ages 18 to 69) living in urban areas of Ontario between 2006 and 2008. Overall about 61 percent of women were up to date on cervical cancer screenings.

Dr. Aisha Lofters, who led the study, said some of the resistance among poor South Asian women had to do with culture. Screening rates in Bangladesh, for example, are only about one percent, even among those with high incomes.

Lofters said healthcare professionals should make extra effort to reach out to South Asian immigrant communities to make the aware of the importance of the test.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. The disease is much more prevalent in less developed countries because of low screening rates.

Symptoms of cervical cancer usually do not appear until the cancer is advanced and include abnormal bleeding, mucus-like discharge, pelvic pain, and pain during urination and intercourse.

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Review Date: 
February 3, 2011
Last Updated:
February 3, 2011