Use of cancer screening services in Greece and associated social factors: results from the nation-wide Hellas Health I survey

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This study estimated the rates of age-appropriate screening practices for breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancer within the general population in Greece and explored the influences of social factors on their use. Data were based on the cross-sectional Hellas Health I survey (2006) conducted on a representative sample of 1005 adults, aged 18–69 years. The percentage of women aged 21–69 years having received the papanicolaou smear test within the past 3 years was 59.4%, and the percentage of women aged 50–69 years having received mammography and the faecal occult blood test (FOBT) within the past 3 years was 53.8 and 8.3%, respectively. There were significant effects of age, education and marital status on carrying out the papanicolaou smear test, age on carrying out mammography, and existence of a family doctor on carrying out the FOBT. In men aged 50–69 years, 40.6% had received the prostate-specific antigen test and 10.9% of men had received the FOBT during the past 3 years. The percentage of men aged 50–69 years who had undergone digital rectal examination within the past 5 years was 20.3%. Multivariate analyses showed significant effects of age, social class, smoking status and type of insurance on carrying out the prostate-specific antigen test and of age on carrying out the digital rectal examination. No effects were revealed for the FOBT in men. The percentage of the population in Greece receiving screening services recommended by the European Council is low and seriously affected by social factors. Public health policies should direct their efforts towards introducing good-quality universal cancer screening and find culturally sensitive ways of addressing the barriers that prevent Greek people from adopting poor-quality cancer screening practices.

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