Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that originates from the cervix of the uterus (womb). A woman’s womb/uterus is made up of different parts, mainly the fundus, body and cervix. The cervix is the neck of the uterus. It is cylindrical and it connects the body of the uterus (where babies grow) to the vagina.
Cervical cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer. Approximately 15,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually in Nigeria, making it the centre of awareness campaigns globally because it often progresses to advanced stages before symptoms are noticed and even when they are, they may be dismissed as “normal changes” or symptoms of other diseases.
Symptoms of this condition could include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Vaginal discharge with offensive odour
- Bleeding after sex
- Lower abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
It is always better to talk to a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms rather than giving yourself a wrong diagnosis.
Risk factors for cervical cancer.
- HPV infection: Human papilloma virus has been found to be responsible for most cervical cancers. This virus can be contracted mostly through unprotected sexual activity. Infections with the HPV 16 or HPV-18 strain are commonly associated with cervical cancer.
- Low immunity: A low or suppressed immunity as a result of HIV or being on long term immuno-suppressive medication could increase the risk of cervical cancer.
- Family history of cervical cancer
- Having multiple male sexual partners or a male sexual partner with multiple sexual partners.
- Smoking is a habit associated with the development of many cancers. Smoking increases the risk of development of cervical cancer 2 fold.
- Long term use of oral contraceptive pills
- Being younger than 17 at first birth.
- Previous history of Sexually transmitted infection.
The following are 5 simple tips that can be done to prevent the risk of cervical cancer.
- Go for routine Pap smears
A Pap smear is a screening test done by scraping cell from the surface of the cervix to identify precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. The WHO recommends women 21 years and above have a Pap smear done every 3 years to screen for possible development of cervical cancer.
2. Get vaccinated
Cervarix and Gardasil vaccines developed against the Human papilloma virus have been found to be effective in preventing infections from carcinogenic strains of the HPV.
These vaccines are widely available and in combination with regular Pap smears, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer is reduced by over 90%. The World Health Organisation now recommends these vaccines for people aged 13-26 years to further reduce the transmission of HPV and incidence of cervical cancer.
You can Call to book an appointment to get vaccinated with us on 08083734008 or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Get educated on safe sexual practices
Before engaging in any sexual activity ensure you have honest conversations with your partner about your sexual history or history of STIs. Ensure that every encounter is protected using barriers such as male/female condoms and dental dams.
4. Create awareness for cervical cancer
Visit your primary health provider to learn more about cervical cancer and step you can take to prevent it . Also encourage open conversations with friends and family to promote awareness on health issues.
5. Quit smoking
Smoking is a habit that has been associated with the development of many cancers. Once established it can be difficult habit to quit, especially without support. Once you are ready to take steps to drop this habit, talk to your primary health provider who will provide a personalized programme to support your journey.