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Cervical cancer prevention in remote rural Nicaragua: a program evaluation.

ABSTRACT

Nicaragua has some of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Latin America and the world. In 2003, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, the Central American Institute of Health and the Maria Luisa Ortiz Clinic combined efforts to create an effective remote rural service network, with centralized quality-controlled cytology, and coordinated treatment.Data was taken from the clinic Pap log, tracking records, patient charts, and pathology reports. Patients were stratified by age (25 and older, and under 25). Standard indicators addressing key components in the entire continuum of an effective screening program were adapted from suggestions by a work group of the Pan American Health Organization.A total of 2132 women received Pap screening. 68% (N = 1448) were 25 and older and 32% (N = 684) were under 25. The proportion of high-grade abnormal screens was 3.7% for women over 25 and 0.4% for women under 25. The proportion of women with high-grade abnormal results who received diagnostic work-up and needed treatment was 94% for women over 25 and 100% for women under 25. The proportion of high-grade squamous cell Pap tests resulting in histologically confirmed disease was 68%. The ratio of pre-invasive disease to invasive disease was 1.9. The invasive cancer detection rate was 0.62%.This program evaluation demonstrates that outreach to high-risk women, quality cytology screening and high rates of diagnostic follow-up and treatment can be conducted in remote, low-resource settings when coordinated efforts are made to remove barriers and ensure quality.