Have you noticed any of the following;
Bleeding from your vagina when it is not time for your normal menses, Bleeding from your vagina after sexual intercourse, Bleeding from your vagina after you have reached menopause (that is no bleeding for at least a year), then, let’s talk.
A lot of our ladies are not quite conversant with the knowledge of Cervical Cancer. It is becoming increasingly common among our women, in their 4th to 5th decade of life, and is only the 2nd most common cancer among women in Nigeria after Breast Cancer.
This cervical cancer affects over 570,000 women every year, out of which, more than half of these people die, mostly due to late presentation.
In Nigeria alone, there were over 14,000 documented cases and 10,000+ deaths from cervical cancer in 2018.
The good news is that Cervical Cancer is Preventable & also treatable when it is detected early. Our target is mainly at Prevention & Early detection of these cases. We shouldn’t have to lose any more women to cervical cancer. We shouldn’t have to lose any more people to preventable causes.
What is Cervical Cancer?
This refers to cancer of the neck of the womb (cervix). Here, the cells here are growing without control. At a point, they become so big, and sometimes if not managed become foul-smelling. Imagine having a big wound that does not heal inside your cervix.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Over 95% of Cervical cancers are caused by repeated infections from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There are over 100 types of this virus, but the most important subtype that causes Cervical Cancer is the types 16 & 18.
Another strain of this virus (types 6 & 11) causes Genital warts, but we would talk about that some other time.
How Can I Get Infected with HPV?
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes over 95% of cervical cancers is transmitted through Sexual Intercourse.
The major risk factors for contracting HPV are as follows;
- Early age at first sex: This means when a girl starts having sex at a very young age, like below 18. The risk increases with earlier age at first sex.
- Multiple Sexual Partners: this involves a lady who engages in sexual activities with many different men. What ladies of today would call body counts. The more the number of men in your life, the greater the risk.
- STDs: The presence of a sexually transmitted disease is a great risk for the development of Cervical cancer.
How Do I Prevent HPV?
To prevent infections by HPV, there are important steps to follow, such as;
Lifestyle modifications are required, such as delaying the onset of sex, treating STIs, reducing the number of sexual partners, etc.
HPV Vaccination: This is the current practice that helps protect ladies & girls from being infected with HPV, & the subsequent development of Cervical cancer or genital warts.
Young girls from 9 years of age & above are vaccinated with the HPV Vaccine, before the onset of their sexual lives. This protects them against HPV infection.
Regular Cervical Screening; For women who are over the age of 21 years, and are sexually active. It is recommended that you do a pap smear 3 yearly or HPV DNA 5 yearly.
This screening is a great gift for friends/family members.
What is HPV Vaccination?
This is a form of immunization that protects the person against infection from the HPV group of viruses depending on the type taken. It is similar to the immunization that we take in childhood against tetanus or polio. The HPV vaccination is taken 3 times apart for effective vaccination. Know that the HPV vaccination (tetravalent) also protects you against Genital warts).
How Much is the Cost of HPV Vaccination?
The cost of HPV Vaccination depends on the center where it is being taken. The price ranges from 21k to 60k and it depends on if it is being subsidized or not. Click here to find out the cost of HPV Vaccination in your area.
Who Can Be Vaccinated for HPV?
There is this misconception that the HPV Vaccine is only meant for ladies. That’s far from the truth. Nowadays, males are advised to get the HPV vaccination. That way, you protect yourself from being used as a reservoir in the transmission of HPV and also protect yourself from genital warts.
What is PAP Smear?
A pap smear is a screening method used to check for abnormal cells in the cervix (womb). In this test, a soft brush is used to collect samples from the cervix, through the vagina, and then these samples are tested for the presence of abnormal cells.
It is not painful and has no effects.
It is recommended for all women who are sexually active above the age of 21.
It helps to detect early cases of cervical cancer so that they can be managed & treated early.
How Do I Know If I Have Cervical Cancer?
If you see any of the following, suspect cervical cancer;
- Abnormal bleeding from your vagina when it’s not time for your normal menses
- bleeding from your vagina after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding from your vagina after you have reached menopause (that is no bleeding for at least a year)
How Can Cervical Cancer Be Treated?
The options for treating cervical cancer depend on the stage at which it is detected. Available options include;
- Surgery: the cancer mass is removed. This is only possible to achieve a cure when the disease is not advanced.
- Chemotherapy: use of various Anti-cancer drugs to fight the cancer cells.
- Radiotherapy: Use of radiation to kill the bad cells.
- Combined: Any combination of the above method.
Remember: Cervical cancer is both preventable & treatable. Early detection is key to treatment.
You can pay for someone to ensure it is done
Don’t forget to vaccinate young girls against HPV!
So ask yourself have you screened for cervical cancer?
If you have any Questions? Please use the comment box below, and we would get back to you as soon as possible.