For many of us women taking about what is ‘under the belt’ is quite a big taboo as issues to do with reproductive organs are considered obscene in our African culture.
However there is a need to do away with these misconceptions as our reproductive organs are part and parcel of us.
With the emergence of cancers such as cervical cancer which tends to affect a woman‘s reproductive organ being on the rise in the country.
According to Benda Kithaka of Women 4 Cancer initiative which aims to create awareness on cervical cancer is there is need to make women more aware of what is happening in their bodies.
As cervical cancer is now a death sentence for many women as there is a lack of awareness among women about cancer screening tests such the Pap smear and other cancer related treatments.
For Kithaka, 65 per cent of the cancer cases when discovered are usually at the advanced stages where nothing can be done to reverse the cancer cells from metastasizing any further.
“A majority of the women seek help when it’s too late and nothing can be done to reverse the condition, however with early medical interventions we can change the conversations and talk about women who are cancer survivors rather than talk of deaths,” said Kithaka.
Speaking during the Eve sisters event held last Saturday at a Nairobi hotel, Kithaka noted that women in Africa were more pre- disposed to having cervical cancer more than women in other parts of the world.
In Kenya, Cervical cancer is a huge threat. According to the World Health Organisation, the disease is nearly six times more prevalent in Kenya than in Western Europe, and ten times than in the United States. It is also the cancer that kills most women in Kenya.
Although cervical cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Kenya there are other types of cancers that affect the female reproductive organs commonly referred to as gyaenocological cancers such as the ovarian cancer that affects the ovaries and is more common among women aged over 50 but can also affect younger women.
For the Endometrial cancer also referred to uterine cancer, with the exact cause of this type of cancer unknown, however increased levels of estrogen appear to have a role.
Although the virus that tends to cause cervical cancer called human papillomaviruses (HPV) may tend to clear on its own however there are chances that it can stay in one body for a period of more than 5 to 15 years with being noticed and in the long run develop into full blown cancer if untreated.
“The virus spreads through sexual contact. Most women's bodies are able to fight this infection. But sometimes the virus leads to cancer. You're at higher risk of cervical cancer if you smoke, have many children, have many sex partners, use birth control pills for a long time, or have HIV infection,” said Kithaka.
Kithaka urged women to come out in the open and speak about this killer cancer and as such through the awareness initiative which saw formed by her and three other women they are planning to take the screening services to women in the rural areas and other parts of the country.
“We are planning to have a walk at the Karura forest on the 27th of September that is aimed at facilitating screening tests for 650 women across the country, treatment and follow ups for 35 women who were previously found to have cancer.
The proceeds raised from the walk aim at facilitating treatment and screening. The tickets for the event will be Shs.1000.
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