Cervical cancer has been labelled as a preventable cancer thanks to the HPV vaccine. HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, is a known cause of cervical cancer.
In many low-income countries, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer, after breast cancer, known to affect women.
In Kenya, out of every 100,000 women, 33 have cervical cancer. 22 out of 100,000 women will die from the disease. This is according to a 2018 report by the World Health Organisation.
Additionally, in information released by Women 4 Cancer and American Cancer Society, nine Kenyan women succumb to cervical cancer everyday. They go on to say that every year more than 5000 women across Kenya are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Since this is a preventable cancer, the Government of Kenya began a campaign to vaccinate girls and women against HPV. Women are also encouraged to go for regular screening.
Medical experts in the UK recently announced a new test that, they claim, will help eliminate cervical cancer once and for all. While girls from the age of 12 are given the HPV vaccine, it is screening for the virus that will help diagnose presence of the cancer beforehand. If, during screening, the virus is detected, these patients will then undergo a pap smear to check for cancer cells. It is believed that screening for the presence of the virus will notify healthcare professionals of infection. Infections are easier to treat than developed cancer.
Since HPV hardly displays any symptoms until it has developed into cancer, regular screening is the best way to detect it.
Getting the virus is mainly through skin-to-skin contact mostly during intercourse. Hence, apart from the vaccine, sticking to one partner and using protection can help in reducing risk of infection.
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