Open Access Research article

Sociodemographic gradients in breast and cervical cancer screening in Korea: the Korean National Cancer Screening Survey (KNCSS) 2005-2009

Mi Jin Park1, Eun-Cheol Park2, Kui Son Choi1, Jae Kwan Jun1 and Hoo-Yeon Lee1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, 111, Jungbalsan-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, 410-769, Korea

2 Department of Preventive Medicine & Institute of Health Services Research, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, 250 Seongsan-no, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, 120-752, Korea

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:257  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-257

Published: 17 June 2011



Cancer screening rates in Korea for five cancer types have increased steadily since 2002. With regard to the life-time cancer screening rates in 2009 according to cancer sites, the second highest was breast cancer (78.1%) and the third highest was cervical cancer (76.1%). Despite overall increases in the screening rate, disparities in breast and cervical cancer screening, based on sociodemographic characteristics, still exist.


Data from 4,139 women aged 40 to74 years from the 2005 to 2009 Korea National Cancer Screening Survey were used to analyze the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and receiving mammograms and Pap smears. The main outcome measures were ever having had a mammogram and ever having had a Pap smear. Using these items of information, we classified women into those who had had both types of screening, only one screening type, and neither screening type. We used logistic regression to investigate relationships between screening history and sociodemographic characteristics of the women.


Being married, having a higher education, a rural residence, and private health insurance were significantly associated with higher rates of breast and cervical cancer screening after adjusting for age and sociodemographic factors. Household income was not significantly associated with mammograms or Pap smears after adjusting for age and sociodemographic factors.


Disparities in breast and cervical cancer screening associated with low sociodemographic status persist in Korea.