by Michael Woodhead
Cervical cancer is not 'on the radar' of even the most health literate Chinese, a new survey suggests.
A study of medical students has found that while most were aware of HPV as a cause of cervical cancer, few were aware of the screening techniques for cervical cancer or the role of a HPV vaccine in preventing the disease.
The survey of 1878 students at Chengdu Medical College found that 79% of females and 54% of males had a positive view of cervical cancer screening, 40% of females and 45% of males were not aware of what it involved. Most had little idea of when cervical screening screening should start or the role of HPV in the development of cervical cancer. Likewise, few Chinese medical students were aware of the ideal intervals for screening, according to the findings published in PLOS One.
When asked about HPV vaccine, only 14% were aware that persistent HPV infection was the necessary cause of cervical cancer and only 29% knew there was an HPV vaccine available. About 50% of males and 65% of females said they would support HPV vaccination, but about 40% said they had concerns about side effects and the cost of the vaccine.
The researchers led by Dr Pan Xiong Fei of the Department of Epidemiology, West China School of Public Health, Sichuan University, said it was a major concern that China's health providers knew little about HPV and prevention of cervical cancer.
"It is important to improve the knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer among medical students in order to supply well-informed health care providers for prevention and control of cervical cancer," they concluded..