Since January is a “Cervical Cancer Awareness” month, I am going to share a little about Cervical cancer. Now, you mustn’t have a cervix to learn from this, it is as important to the males as it is to the Females. I will use simple terms and avoid boring talks so you can follow me to the end. Cervical Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Nigeria. Every two minutes around the world, a woman dies due to it and more than half of this women are Nigerians. Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Now calm down, lets start gently.
The cervix is the part of the female reproductive tract that connects the Vagina and Uterus ( so it’s found between this parts). Cancer simply refers to abnormal excessive, autonomous and uncoordinated growth of cells. I guess you can put the two together yourself. Can you imagine what happens when the Cells in the cervix decides to invade the lungs or even the brain? That’s not good.
Just like other cancers, there is really no one particular cause of Cervical cancer however, some risk factors have been identified majorly infection with a Virus known as Human Papillomavirus(HPV)- having first sexual contact at 16 years or less / within the first year of start of menstrual period and also having multiple sexual partners or even a partner infected with HPV( Now this is where the males come in). Other factors are Smoking and use of oral contraceptive drugs. Hope we understand that this factors are not absolute indications that one will get Cervical cancer, they just give one up to 90% chance of getting it. Oops, thats still not a good thing.
This ugly bully usually will not show itself especially in the early stages. You mostly see it later when it’s very dangerous. The woman begins to have abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharges, serious pains, blood in urine and so many other things, but again this symptoms are not absolute.
Enough of the plenty troubles, This is a better part.
Cervical cancer is slow-growing( up to 25 years) so its progression through pre-cancerous changes provides opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment. If any of the earlier mentioned risk factors applies to you even the eating of smoked fish as a lady then you should pay attention.
Some of you must have heard about the *Pap Smear Test* , here, the medic just sticks a tiny brush into the cervix though the vagina to get few cells to examine. Trust me, it’s not painful, in seconds you are done. This simple test can tell the Doctor if one might get Cervical cancer up to 20 years before it manifests so the Doctor can help prevent /cure it. The good thing is It’s not even expensive. If you are 21 years or older, then you should have a Pap smear done at least once every 3 years.
There are also available vaccines that prevent infection by the major virus. Abstinence from sex is recommended in prevention of the virus transmission, likewise use of barrier methods like condoms.
I am sure you learnt a lot. Please let’s spread the word to our mothers, sisters and friends. You can share this too. Make sure you Go for a Pap Smear Test this month.