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Abstract

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in developing countries and accounted for 84% of the global incidence of cervical cancer in 2012. Nicaragua is one country illustrating this disparity, with an annual cervical cancer mortality six times the U.S. rate. This may be explained by lack and poor utilization of effective screening programs, especially the Papanicolaou, or Pap, smear. This study resulted from a partnership formed by faculty and students from two U.S. universities and a Nicaraguan nonprofit organization to conduct projects to benefit a community in Nicaragua. To promote a free Pap smear program provided by the local clinic, a community-wide survey regarding Pap smear utilization was conducted with local health promotoras (promoters). Of 1,117 women, 78.4% reported ever having a Pap smear, of whom 11.1% had not received their results, while results were reported as normal by 78.9%, and abnormal by 10%. The most common reasons for not having a Pap smear were refusal to test, fear, and pain. Proportions of women who ever had a Pap smear varied by etapa (stage/neighborhood, p < .001). Findings are useful for policy development to improve the clinic’s screening services and encourage full utilization of Pap smears.

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