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Cervical Cancer: The Cancer Killing Nigerian Women

Every two minutes around the world, a woman dies of cervical cancer.

In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the number of Nigerian women suffering from cervical cancer annually totalled 14,089 making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Sadly, this statistics is not only high in Nigeria. Up to 530, 000 cases and 275,000 deaths are recorded in developing nations every year. Put together, this is 80% of the cervical cases in the world. This is quite unfortunate knowing that this type of cancer can be avoided before it becomes full blown.

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lowest part of the uterus (womb). A woman is at risk once she clocks fifteen.

Factors linked to cervical cancer include but not restricted to the following:

HPV Infection

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. This infection is so widespread that 79 million Americans have this infection. Over 35 out of the 100 types of this infection can get into a woman’s vagina, cervix, the anus, a man’s penis, and scrotum, the mouth and throat. Men who have been diagnosed with head and neck cancer because of this has increased in recent times.  It takes about 10 to 30 years before it becomes developed. Hence the need for a pap smear screening every three to five years irrespective your sexual status.

Sex

Sexually active women who started at a young age have a high risk of getting this cancer.

Smoking

It has been said countless times that smoking is more dangerous than we imagine, yet the nicotine in it makes us addicted. Besides lung cancer, smoking increases the chance of having cervical cancer by double.

Immune System

Quite a number of women who have a weak immune system are prone to cervical cancer.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

This synthetic form of estrogen is a leading cause of cervical cancer.  Women whose mothers took this drug are likely to get cervical cancer.

Women who have been diagnosed usually have about five years to live yet this preventable cancer can be diagnosed with Pap smear screening and HPV vaccine. Unfortunately, over 75% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have never had a pap smear done before.

The pap smear is painless and is carried out by an obstetrician-gynaecologist. A pap smear test is recommended for sexually active women between the ages of 21 to 65. After the speculum is inserted into the vagina, the cells collected are placed under a microscope to test for cancerous tumours. If a woman bleeds excessively, it signals a problem. However, there are exceptions. Quite a few number of women who have cervical cancer have undergone a pap smear screening.

Although there are debates on if a virgin should go for a pap smear or not, we recommend you consult your doctor.

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