Successes and challenges of establishing a cervical cancer screening and treatment program in western Kenya

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Objective; To describe the challenges and successes of integrating a public-sector cervical screening program into a large HIV care system in western Kenya.

Methods; The present study was a programmatic description and a retrospective chart review of data collected from a cervical screening program based on visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) between June 2009 and October 2011.

Results; In total, 6787 women were screened: 1331 (19.6%) were VIA-positive, of whom 949 (71.3%) had HIV. Overall, 206 women underwent cryotherapy, 754 colposcopy, 143 loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP), and 27 hysterectomy. Among the colposcopy-guided biopsies, 27.9% had severe dysplasia and 10.9% had invasive cancer. There were 68 cases of cancer, equating to approximately 414 per 100 000 women per year. Despite aggressive strategies, the overall loss to follow-up was 31.5%: 27.9% were lost after a positive VIA screen, 49.3% between biopsy and LEEP, and 59.6% between biopsy and hysterectomy/chemotherapy.

Conclusion; The established infrastructure of an HIV treatment program was successfully used to build capacity for cervical screening in a low-resource setting. By using task-shifting and evidence-based, low-cost approaches, population-based cervical screening in a rural African clinical network was found to feasible; however, loss to follow-up and poor pathology infrastructure remain important obstacles.


International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics