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The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common risk factor for developing cervical cancer. Vaccines and early screening can prevent cervical cancer from developing. This study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, sought to assess cervical cancer knowledge and cervical cancer prevention and screening practices among Saudi women living in Al Madinah Province, Saudi Arabia. 

Women 18 and older participated in this cross-sectional study, and a total of 1,489 responses were obtained for analysis. About 51% of the participants were between 18 and 25, and 49% were older than 25. Data were collected using an online self-reported questionnaire. Along with demographic characteristics, the questionnaire included twenty questions on cervical cancer knowledge and two questions on cervical cancer screening and prevention. 

Ultimately, it was found that the participants had a low to moderate level of cervical cancer awareness, with very low awareness of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening. Nearly 80% of participants identified vaginal bleeding as a sign of the disease, but only about 44% and 19% identified the associated signs of dyspareunia and leg pain, respectively. Just over a third of participants knew that HPV was a risk factor for cervical cancer, and less than half identified the pap smear as a cervical cancer screening tool.

Moreover, less than 13% of participants had received a pap smear or knew that there was an HPV vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer. Less than 1% of participants had received the HPV vaccine. These findings are especially compelling because two-thirds of participants had a university or postgraduate degree, and a fifth studied or worked in the medical field. 

In closing, this study shines a light on the critical need to work with Saudi healthcare providers to raise cervical cancer awareness in Saudi Arabia. Doing so is vital to improving the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer among Saudi women [1].

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[1] Zahid, H. M., Qarah, A. B., Alharbi, A. M., Alomar, A. E., & Almubarak, S. A. (2022). Awareness and practices related to cervical cancer among females in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), 1455. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031455