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Cervical cancer in Tanzania: A systematic review of current challenges in six domains


Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Tanzania. After excluding human immunodeficiency virus, lower respiratory infections, malaria, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis, cervical cancer kills more women than any other form of illness in the country. Unfortunately, Tanzania has a low doctor-to-patient ratio (1:50,000) and nearly 7000 women die each year from this disease. The clinical problem is further magnified by the country's lack of resources and prevailing poverty, sporadic cervical cancer screening, prevalence of high-risk oncogenic human papillomavirus subtypes, and relatively high rates of human immunodeficiency virus co-infection. In recent years, addressing the cervical cancer problem has become a priority for the Tanzanian government. In this systematic review of 39 peer-reviewed publications that appeared in the PubMed/MEDLINE (NCBI) database from 2013 to 2018, we synthesize the growing body of literature to capture current trends in Tanzania's evolving cervical cancer landscape. Six domains were identified, including risk factors, primary prevention, barriers to screening, treatment, healthcare worker education, and sustainability. In addition to traditional risk factors associated with sexual behavior, acetowhite changes observed during visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid, lower education, rural setting, and HIV positivity also have a noteworthy clinical impact.

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