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Revista Costarricense de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1409-1429


ABARCA GOMEZ, Leandra et al. Factors associated with changes in PAP Smears in a health center Costa Rica, 2009. Rev. costarric. salud pública [online]. 2014, vol.23, n.1, pp.08-12. ISSN 1409-1429.

Cervical cancer is among the leading causes of cancer in women globally; in Costa Rica it is among the top three causes. Although the PAP smears is part of the guidelines of care for women, the coverage in some areas of health is low. Objective: Identify demographic and clinical factors associated with abnormal Pap test results Methods: We conducted a health center-based case-control study. A case was defined as any woman seeking care in a health center during 2009, having a Pap test positive for either cells of undetermined significance (Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance) mild, moderate or severe dysplasia. Controls were selected by simple random sampling using records of women seen at the same health centers in 2009 and having normal PAP smears. Odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated for associations between potential risk factors and abnormal PAP smears. Results: We identified 62 cases and 137 controls. The average age of cases was 43 was not significantly different from that of controls (Student t p = 0,90). ASCUS was the most frequent cause of abnormal cytology (39 %). Factors found to be significantly associated with abnormal cytology were: tobacco use (OR=2,35; 95 % CI=1,26-4,31), onset of sexual activity before age 18 (OR=2,0; 95 % CI=1,06-3,64) and having a history of > 3 sexual partners (OR=2,0; 95 % CI=1,11-3,97). Conclusions: There was similarity between risk factors we identified as described in the literature, like onset of sexual activity before age 18 and have history of 3 or more sexual parthers. These are common risk factors associated with HPV infection. Our study was limited by the failure to follow-up colposcopy results for definitive diagnoses and no HPV test. Considering these risk factors represent modifiable health behaviors, we recommended dissemination of our findings to local health authorities in order to generate intervention strategies to promote responsible, healthy sexual behaviors as how to reduce tobacco consumption and develop healthy sexual habits.

Keywords : PAP Smears; Displasya; Cancer; Costa Rica.

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