A study to determine the relationship between prevalence of late stage diagnosis of cervical cancer and number of comorbid illness in women aged 65 years and above in Zimbabwe
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The elderly are currently the fastest growing population worldwide. Illnesses arising with advancing age, like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular disorders are complicating cervical cancer diagnosis in elderly women. This descriptive, correlational study was done to explore the relationship between prevalence of late stage diagnosis of cervical cancer and number of comorbidities in women aged 65 years and above in Zimbabwe guided by Betty Neuman’s Systems Model. Non-probability sampling was used to recruit and interview 68 women aged 65 years and above with cervical cancer from Parirenyatwa Hospital and Spilhause Clinic at Harare Hospital. Data analysis was done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), The Pearson’s Correlation coefficient and simple regression to describe demographic characteristics and dependent and independent variables. Study findings indicated that the average number of comorbidities suffered by elderly women before late stage cervical cancer diagnosis was 2.03 with a mean comorbidity score of 9.03 out of 38 using a modified Charleson Comorbidity Index. The prevalence of late stage diagnosis was 0.661. Pearson’s correlation coefficient showed a positive and significant relationship between prevalence of late stage diagnosis of cervical cancer and number of comorbidities (r = .431, p < 0.01). This result means that the higher the number of comorbidities in elderly women, the later the stage of presentation with cervical cancer. There is need to focus early screening of cervical cancer efforts on elderly women to promote early detection and treatment. The effect of the independent variable is indicated by significant R² = 0.186 (b = 0.289). This result explains that the number of comorbidities suffered before cervical cancer diagnosis causes 18.6% of the prevalence of late stage diagnosis of cervical cancer. Further research is needed to clarify other factors leading to late stage diagnosis of cervical cancer in elderly women aged 65 years and above in Zimbabwe.