Socio Demographic and Reproductive Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer - a Large Prospective Cohort Study from Rural India

  • Thulaseedharan, Jissa V. (Achutha Menon Centre for Health Sciences Studies, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST)) ;
  • Malila, Nea (School of Health Sciences (HES), University of Tampere) ;
  • Hakama, Matti (School of Health Sciences (HES), University of Tampere) ;
  • Esmy, Pulikottil O. (Christian Fellowship Community Health Centre) ;
  • Cheriyan, Mary (Christian Fellowship Community Health Centre) ;
  • Swaminathan, Rajaraman (Cancer Institute (WIA)) ;
  • Muwonge, Richard (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)) ;
  • Sankaranarayanan, Rengaswami (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC))
  • Published : 2012.06.30


Background: India shows some of the highest rates of cervical cancer worldwide, and more than 70% of the population is living in rural villages. Prospective cohort studies to determine the risk factors for cervical cancer are very rare from low and medium resource countries. The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of risk factors related to cervical cancer in a rural setting in South India. Material and methods: Sociodemographic and reproductive potential risk factors for cervical cancer were studied using the data from a cohort of 30,958 women who constituted the unscreened control group in a randomised screening trial in Dindigul district, Tamilnadu, India. The analysis was accomplished with the Cox proportional hazard regression model. Results: Women of increasing age (HR=2.4; 95% CI: 1.6, 3.8 in 50-59 vs 30-39), having many pregnancies (HR=7.1; 1.0, 52 in 4+ vs 0) and no education (HR=0.6; 0.2, 0.7 in high vs none) were found to be at significantly increased risk of cervical cancer. Conclusion: This cohort study gives very strong evidence to say that education is the fundamental factor among the sociodemographic and reproductive determinants of cervical cancer in low resource settings. Public awareness through education and improvements in living standards can play an important role in reducing the high incidence of cervical cancer in India. These findings further stress the importance of formulating public health policies aimed at increasing awareness and implementation of cervical cancer screening programmes.


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