Open Access Open Badges Research article

Comprehensive knowledge about cervical cancer is low among women in Northwest Ethiopia

Frehiwot Getahun1*, Fekadu Mazengia2, Mulunesh Abuhay2 and Zelalem Birhanu3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Department of Midwifery, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

3 Department of Reproductive Health, Institute of Public health, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-2

Published: 2 January 2013



Cervical cancer is the first most common cancer in women in sub-Saharan Africa followed by breast cancer. In Ethiopia, the incidence of cervical cancer is high i.e. 35.9 per 100,000 women. Low level of awareness, lack of effective screening programs, overshadowed by other health priorities (such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, tuberculosis and malaria) and insufficient attention to women’s health are the possible factors for the observed higher incidence rate of cervical cancers in the country. Data on knowledge of Ethiopian women regarding cervical cancer is lacking. The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge of women about cervical cancer and associated factors.


A community based cross-sectional survey was conducted from April 4-16, 2010 in Gondar town, Northwest Ethiopia. A total of 633 women aged 15 years and above were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaire by 8 trained data collectors and 2 supervisors. SPSS Windows version 15.0 was employed for data entry and analysis.


Of all the respondents, 495 (78.7%) of them had heard about cervical cancer and only 195 (31%) of them were knowledgeable about the disease.


The knowledge of women on cervical cancer was found to be poor. Education about the disease must include information on risk factors, sign and symptoms of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer; Women; Knowledge