Growing cervical cancer cases in Nigeria

Growing cervical cancer cases in Nigeria
Daily Times Nigeria

If there is any disease mostly dreaded by Nigerian women, it is cervical cancer.|
Available statistics show that more than 100,000 women die every year in Nigeria from the disease, even as this is particularly tragic because the vast majority of the cervical cancer deaths in the country are preventable.
According to Professor Oladapo Walker of the Department of Pharmacology, Babcock University, Ilisan Remo Ogun State, the increasing spread of the disease is traceable to poverty of ideas and mind of the victims. The medical expert revealed that the disease has a long gestation period of no less than 20 years and normally starts with a chronic infection of the Human Papilloma Virus, type 16 or 18, which are the casilogenic ones.
Experts define cancer of the cervix as cancer of the entrance to the uterus (womb). The cervix is the narrow part of the lower uterus, often referred to as the neck of the womb and occurs most commonly in women over the age of 30. In addition, there are two main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell cervical cancer and adenocarcinoma of the cervix, even as risk factors include smoking, giving birth at a young age and having a weakened immune system.
Others include having had at least three children in separate pregnancies, long-term use of some common contraceptive pills, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and experiencing high levels of stress over a sustained period. Moreover, cervical cancer-causing HPV types can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
However, women who have had many sexual partners are at higher risk of infection with HPV, which raises their risk of developing cervical cancer, even as a link between becoming sexually active at a young age is also a factor of cervical cancer. In addition, studies reveal that women in deprived areas are more likely to have higher rates of cervical cancer. Surprisingly, less than 0.1 per cent of Nigerian women have ever had cervical cancer screening in their lifetime and less than 1 per cent is aware of the existence of this silent killer.
Incidentally, the most common symptoms of cervical cancer are, bleeding between periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse, bleeding in post-menopausal women, discomfort during sexual intercourse, smelly vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. Due to this, we advise that women should regularly go for medical screening to ensure early detection, especially when they attain the age of 21 years. Cervical cancer is ranked the second most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria, and the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 45 years of age.
In order to reduce the morbidity arising from cervical cancer, it is pertinent that the authorities immediately map out strategies to improve women’s health, rather than wait for the capacity of the country’s health infrastructure to approach that of the industrialised nations. One of the major challenges towards the management of this disease can be only attributed to the inadequacy of public enlightenment and poverty. It is therefore otiose on the government to embark on mass enlightenment campaign on the dangers posed by cervical cancer to women. Now is time to reduce the burden of disease in the community through education.

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