Background:

Cervical cancer presents a considerable challenge in South Asia, notably in Nepal, where screening remains limited. Past research in Nepal lacked national representation and a thorough exploration of factors influencing cervical cancer screening, such as educational and socioeconomic disparities. This study aims to measure these gaps and identify associated factors in testing for early detection of cervical cancer among Nepalese women.

Methods:

Data from the 2019 Nepal Noncommunicable Disease Risk Factors survey (World Health Organization STEPwise approach to noncommunicable risk factor surveillance), involving 2,332 women aged 30 to 69 years, were used. Respondents were asked if they had undergone cervical cancer testing through visual inspection with acetic acid, Pap smear, or human papillomavirus test ever or in the past 5 years. The slope index of inequality (SII) and relative concentration index were used to measure socioeconomic and education-based disparities in cervical cancer test uptake.

Results:

Only 7.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 5.1–9.9] Nepalese women had ever undergone cervical cancer testing, whereas 5.1% (95% CI: 3.4–7.5) tested within the last 5 years. The ever uptake of cervical cancer testing was 5.1 percentage points higher (SII: 5.1, 95% CI: −0.1 to 10.2) among women from the richest compared with the poorest households. Education-based disparities were particularly pronounced, with a 13.9 percentage point difference between highly educated urban residents and their uneducated counterparts (SII: 13.9, 95% CI: 5.8–21.9).

Conclusions:

Less than one in ten women in Nepal had a cervical cancer testing, primarily favoring higher educated and wealthier individuals.

Impact:

Targeted early detection and cervical cancer screening interventions are necessary to address these disparities and improve access and uptake.

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