Cervical cancer awareness month: Prevention and the need for screening
Kenya reports 42,116 new cancer cases every year out of a population of 53,771,300. This boils down to 115 cancer cases diagnosed daily with 75 patients succumbing to the illness in the same period.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer report, 16.1% of new cancer cases in 2020 are breast cancer cases followed by cervical cancer at 12.4%.
Every January, the world observes cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in reproductive-aged women globally.
“Around one million children worldwide lose their mother to cancer every year, often leaving orphans caught up in a ‘vicious cycle of disadvantage’,” research conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said.
Around 45 percent of the mothers died from breast and cervical cancer, which are “very preventable”, the research report added, calling for more investment to fight both diseases.
Women from the age of 21 are highly advised to get a pap smear test – a test that looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
If You Are 21 to 29 Years Old
You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
If You Are 30 to 65 Years Old
Talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you—
- An HPV test only. This is called primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
If You Are Older Than 65
Your doctor may tell you that you don’t need to be screened anymore if—
- You have had normal screening test results for several years, and
- You have not had a cervical precancer in the past, or
- You have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids.
Across the age groups, one thing stands out, the need for screening. Get screened this January as the world observes cervical cancer awareness month.