Let’s talk about Cervical Health… #HPV #Cervical Cancer #JanuaryIsCervicalHealthAwarenessMonth

Linda Afya joins with all Kenyans in condoling with the 14 families of the innocent Kenyans who fell to heinous acts at the 14 Riverside Drive. Gods peace, strength and Comfort is what we ask on behalf of the berieved as we wish the injured a quick and full recovery. We also commend Kenyans for looking out for one another being brave, loving, patriotic and unbowed. God Bless Kenya!

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

The previous article sort to give a background on the awareness campaigns carried out around the globe on cancer of the cervix and the reasons for awareness. Today we still maintain the teal ribbon culture so as to ensure that women are fully aware of the aetiology and how they can prevent and manage these risks. Every woman has a duty to maintain a resolve to keep on getting healthier. This is the very first step to lasting wellness.

About HPV and Cervical Cancer

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) different from HIV and HSV (herpes). It mostly affects the younger population in their late teens and early 20s. There are many different types of HPV some of which cause genital warts and cancers. HPV is transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus but most commonly through vaginal and anal sex. An infected person can pass on HPV even when they dont show signs or symptoms and the symptoms can take years before they appear an occurance that makes it difficult to know the time of infection.

HPV is responsible for causing most cancers but most commonly cervical cancer. Others include the vulval, vaginal, anal and penile cancers. Oropharyngeal cancer is also known to be caused by HPV.

Cervical cancer is one of the main types of gynecologic cancers, but the number of cases of cervical cancer has declined in the past 40 years due to more women getting the HPV vaccine and getting regular pap tests.

Depending on the stage of the patient’s cervical cancer, a combination of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy may be recommended.

According to the World Health Organization Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women with an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018 representing 6.6% of all female cancers. Approximately 90% of deaths from cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Aetiological factors for Cervical Cancer

Apart from HPV, other risk factors for Cervical Cancer include; smoking, which does not only affect the smoker but also those around them. Women who smoke are twice as likely to get cervical cancer than non-smokers

A weakened immune system is also a high risk factor for cervical cancer. A weak immune system is prone to HPV infections and cannot adequately destroy cancerous cells. Other risk factors include Chlamydial growth, poor diet, especially one that is low in fruits and vegetables, being overweight, long term use of birth control pills as well as use of Intrauterine devices (IUDs), multiple full term pregnancies, full term pregnancy at an age younger than 17, family history of cervical cancer among others.

Managing Cervical Cancer

There are lots of good news in terms of prevention and treatment of cervical cancer. The global high mortality rate from cancer of the cervix can be reduced. WHO recommends a comprehensive approach to management that includes prevention, early diagnosis, effective screening and treatment programmes.

HPV Vaccination

There are currently vaccines that protect against common cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus and can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine helps protect you against certain types of HPV that can lead to cancer or genital warts. The HPV vaccine protects against:

  • HPV types 16 and 18 — the 2 types that cause 80% of cervical cancer cases.
  • HPV types 6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts cases.
  • Another 5 types of HPV (types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58) that can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus, vulva/vagina, penis, or throat.

The HPV vaccine is given in a series of shots. For people ages 15-45, the HPV vaccine is 3 separate shots. The second shot is given 2 months after the first, and the third shot is given 4 months after the second shot. So, in all, it takes about 6 months to get all 3 shots. Younger people, ages 9-14, get 2 shots six months apart.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Early diagnosis is key to fighting the HPV and its associated infections. The best way to achieve early diagnosis is to adopt a regular cervical cancer screening culture and for all other types of cancer. Protect yourself by attending the cervical screening test, previously known as a pap smear every time there is an invitation for screening. From time to time, different organizations come out to offer free screening services.

During cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities. In some areas, the screening sample is first checked for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that can cause abnormal cells. Note that, an abnormal cervical screening test result does not mean you definitely have cancer. Most abnormal results are due to signs of HPV, the presence of treatable precancerous cells, or both, rather than cancer itself.

Treating Cervical Cancer

Early diagnosis, just to emphasize, at an early stage makes it possible for cervical cancer to be successfully treated through surgery. There are cases depending on the extent of malignancy that may require the removal of the womb through hysterectomy. In the early stages, radiotherapy can be used alongside chemotherapy and/or surgery.

How to get Involved

Get involved through the campaigns. These campaigns help many women to get access to cancer screening, drugs etc. By simply sharing information women need to know about cervical screening and offering support, you count among the few who save lives. Let us work towards the day where cervical cancer no longer claims our women’s lives!

Join the Movement!

Download the attached CervicalHealthGuideforPatients and share it widely

Share your story or that of a loved one and how you were affected by cervical cancer

Join the campaign and create awareness #JanuaryIsCervicalHealthAwarenessMonth

Support and make donations to a cause that is involved in cancer research

Volunteer to help a family and/or patients affected

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