In many Sub-Saharan African countries, cervical cancer remains the most prevalent cancer among women. The purpose of this study is to empirically characterize levels of knowledge in healthcare students in Mwanza, Tanzania with regards to transmission and risk factors for HPV infection, as well as treatment options and prevention of cervical cancer.METHODS:
To assess educational needs and awareness, 185 health professions students were surveyed to measure knowledge of cervical cancer.RESULTS:
3 out of 181 students identified all of the correct causes of cervical cancer and none of the incorrect causes. 11 students out of 181 identified all of the correct HPV prevention methods and none of the incorrect methods. None of the students were able to identify all correct responses without selecting any incorrect responses for cervical cancer risk factors, HPV transmission, or cervical cancer treatment options. Almost two-thirds of participants in this study reported being dissatisfied with their current level of cervical cancer knowledge, and the most common source of information indicated by students was the media, not school.CONCLUSION:
Many policy changes are needed to curtail the high incidence and prevalence of cervical cancer in Tanzania. Low levels of demonstrated knowledge call for the implementation of additional HPV, cervical cancer prevention, and cervical cancer treatment educational lessons. These lessons may improve the knowledge base of the future healthcare workforce, who may in turn be more equipped to address the high rates of cervical cancer in Tanzania.