Background: Cancer of the cervix is among the leading causes of cancer related deaths among women in Kenya. Cervical cytology screening programs have been shown to significantly reduce mortality and morbidity associated with cancer of the cervix. Since 90% of pregnant women attend antenatal clinic at least once, the antenatal period offers an opportunity for cervical cytology screening. The local prevalence of abnormal cervical cytology has not been documented.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of cervical cytology abnormalities among women attending antenatal clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study, carried out among pregnant women on their first antenatal visit between February and August 2008. A papanicolaou smear was taken for each consenting participant. Obstetric and gynaecology profiles of the participants were obtained with a structured questionnaire.
Results: A total of 171 participants were recruited. Only 10.5% had had previous screening for abnormal cervical cytology. One hundred and sixty pap smears were satisfactory for evaluation while five (2.9%) were unsatisfactory. The prevalence of squamous intra-epithelial lesions was 5.8% (3.5% LSIL, 2.3% HSIL). Thirty one percent were inflammatory, 1.2% had trichomonas vaginalis, 7% had bacterial vaginosis (diagnosed by the presence of clue cells) and 10.5% had Candid spp. Forty nine percent of the pap smears were reported normal. HIV positive status and abnormal vaginal discharge were significantly associated with the presence of any pap smear abnormality (p value <0.05).
Conclusion and recommendations: The rate of previous screening for abnormal cervical cytology was low at 10.5%, while the prevalence of abnormal cervical cytology was high at 5.8%. Positive HIV sero-status and presence of abnormal vaginal discharge were noted to increase the risk of cervical smear abnormalities. This emphasizes the need for antenatal cervical cytology screening programs especially among HIV seropositive women and women with abnormal vaginal discharge.