Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Challenges Associated With Cervical Cancer Screening and Management in Obese Women: A Provider Perspective.

  • Author(s): Clarke, Megan A
  • Massad, L Stewart
  • Khan, Michelle J
  • Smith, Katie M
  • Guido, Richard S
  • Mayeaux, EJ
  • Darragh, Teresa M
  • Huh, Warner K
  • Johnson, Amanda L
  • Gold, Michael A
  • Schiffman, Mark
  • Wentzensen, Nicolas
  • et al.


Obese women are at increased risk of cervical cancer, partly due to missed detection of cervical precancers during routine cervical cancer screening. We administered a clinician survey to better understand specific challenges and identify potential solutions to performing cervical cancer screening and management in obese women.

Materials and methods

We administered a web-based survey to 2,319 members of the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology including questions related to challenges associated with cervical sampling and visualization in obese compared with normal weight women and potential strategies for improvement. We summarized providers' responses using descriptive statistics and used Fisher exact tests to evaluate associations between provider characteristics and challenges with cervical sampling, visualization, and biopsy.


Of the 240 providers that completed the survey, 89% and 93% reported that cervical sampling and visualization are more challenging in obese women, respectively, whereas 80% reported that taking a biopsy was more challenging. Commonly reported barriers included vaginal prolapse, difficulty visualizing and accessing the cervix, and lack of long enough sampling devices and large enough speculums. Frequently used techniques to improve sampling and visualization included use of a condom or examination glove finger to sheath a speculum and using a tenaculum. Most providers identified training for cervical sampling and colposcopy in obese women as a learning gap, and only 8% reported receiving such training.


Cervical cancer screening and management are more challenging in obese compared with normal weight women. Major barriers to cervical sampling and visualization included lack of adequately sized equipment and lack of education and training.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View