Barriers to cervical cancer and breast cancer screening uptake in low-and-middle-income countries: a systematic review

Ananth Srinath*, Frits van Merode, Shyam Vasudeva Rao, Milena Pavlova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


There is an alarmingly high growth in breast and cervical cancers in low-and-middle-income countries. Due to late presentation to the doctors, there is a lower cure rate. The screening programs in low-and-middle-income countries are not comprehensive. In this paper, we systematically analyse the barriers to screening through an accessibility framework. We performed a systematic literature search in PubMed, Mendeley and Google Scholar to retrieve all English language studies (quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods) that contained information on breast and cervical cancer screening in low-and-middle-income countries. We only considered publications published between the 1st of January 2016 and the 31st of May 2021. The review was guided by PRISMA-S, an extension to the PRISMA Statement for Reporting Literature Searches in Systematic Reviews. The search yielded a total of 67 articles from low-and-middle-income countries in this review. We used a framework on accessibility known as the 5A framework, which distinguishes five aspects of access: approachability, acceptability, availability, affordability and appropriateness, to classify the screening barriers. We added two more aspects: awareness and angst, as they could explain other important barriers to screening. They confirmed how the lack of awareness, cost of the screening service and distance to the screening centre act as major impediments to screening. They also revealed how embarrassment and fear of screening and cultural factors such as lack of spousal or family support could be obstacles to screening. We conclude that more needs to be done by policymakers and governments to improve the confidence of the people in the health systems Women should be made aware of the causes and risk factors of cancer through evidence-based strategies so that there is an increased adherence to screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-527
Number of pages19
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number4
Early online date16 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2023


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