Twenty-six Nigerian women lose their lives due to cervical cancer every day and a further 14,000 women are diagnosed each year with this disease.
Hi SL Fabz,
The month of January is the Cervical Health Awareness Month, a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer.
Sadly, Cervical Cancer kills thousands of women in Nigeria every month. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide. However, half of cervical cancers occur among women rarely or never screened for cancer, and another 10%–20% of cancers occur among women who were screened but did not receive adequate follow-up care. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
Today, I’d like to share some tips with you about how we can prevent this deadly disease.
1. Get a regular Pap smear. Getting a regular Pap smear is a highly effective way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. The Pap smear is a simple test that can detect abnormal cervical changes long before they become cancerous. The key to the effectiveness of the Pap smear is having it done regularly. Always consult with your doctor about how often you should be having Pap smears.
2. Limit the amount of sexual partners you have. Practicing safe sex is more than just wearing a condom. It also means limiting the amount of sexual partners you have in your lifetime. Having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of being infected with HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
3. Quit smoking or avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking cigarettes has an effect on cervical cancer as well. Once you’re infected with HPV [human papillomavirus], smoking more than doubles your risk of not beating the disease on your own. Smoking won’t give you HPV, but suck down more than 10 cigarettes a day and you can double your risk for advanced precancerous cells once you have the disease. Plus, it can speed up the cancerous growth.
4. If you are sexually active, use a condom. Having unprotected sex puts you at risk for HIV and other STD’s which can increase your risk factor for developing cervical cancer.
5. Follow up on abnormal Pap smears. If you have had an abnormal Pap smear, it is important to follow up with regular Pap smears or colposcopies, whatever your doctor has decided for you. If you have been treated for cervical dysplasia, you still need to follow up with Pap smears or colposcopies. Dysplasia can return and when undetected, can turn into cervical cancer.
6. Get the HPV vaccine. If you are under 26, you may be eligible to receive the HPV vaccine, which prevents high risk strains of HPV in women. The shot is recommended for girls as young as 9 or 10, because it works best before you’ve had any sort of sexual contact. The vaccine doesn’t protect against HPV strains you’ve already contracted, so most doctors won’t administer it to women over 26 because they assume most are already sexually active.
So dearies, let’s practice these measures to protect ourselves. If you are sexually active, get a pap smear done. And guys, please share this info with any lady you know.