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HEALTH HEED
 

Cervical Cancer- Knowledge is Power!

Cervical cancer is 100% treatable and can be made less common with regular Pap tests.

It is saddening and horrifying to hear of the increasing prevalence and devastation caused by cancer to a patient and everyone connected to him/her. What adds to the awful fact is that cancer in its diverse, complicated varieties is fast becoming known as an almost ‘natural’ or ‘accepted’ form of ones downfall and this is an attitude that we must all work together to change  through more information, preparation and optimism.

And we now have a start! Cervical cancer, the second most common form of cancer after breast cancer, also known as the cancer that kills a woman every 2 minutes somewhere in the world, is now preventable. Vaccines with high efficacy have been developed by leading pharmaceuticals to try and protect women around the world of all ages against this dreadful infection.

Worldwide, about 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 270,000 women die. This means every two minutes, by the time you have read up to this point in this article, a woman somewhere around the world has died due to this disease. Without a significant improvement in the prevention of cervical cancer, there are expected to be approximately one million new cases every year globally by 2050. And these are very frightening figures.

Cancer of the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus) begins with a persistent infection from a very common and contagious virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) of which there are over 100 varieties, of which 18 can lead to cancer. Women of all ages are at risk for cervical cancer due to infection caused by this virus.  

A number of factors appear to contribute to the persistence of cancer-causing virus infections and therefore, development of cervical cancer, including smoking, high number of pregnancies, long term use of birth control pills (over 5 years), weakened immune system, sexual activity at an early age and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Abnormalities in the cervix can be promptly detected by screening methods such as regular Pap smears performed at a doctors’ office, which is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix to ensure there are no abnormalities. It can also find non cancerous conditions, such as infection and inflammation. Cervical cancer is 100% treatable and can be made less common with regular Pap tests, which is why their awareness and regular check ups are very important. Most of the women that are diagnosed with cervical cancer today have not had regular Pap smears or they have not followed up on abnormal results.

Whilst current screening technologies are important and improving, they are only about 80% effective in detecting abnormal cells. Cervical cancer is lucky to be one of the first cancers targeted by vaccines which promises women a brighter future.

Life is a precious gift of God and it is often too late when we realise that. It is important for a woman- a mother, sister, daughter or friend, to pay attention to their well being and strive to collect more information about this proactively.
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