Cervical cancer in Nigeria: 5 facts every Nigerian woman should know

Cervical cancer in Nigeria. Cervical cancer can be prevented and treated if detected early. Early detection of cervical has been greatly assisted by recent advances in the field of Medicine.

It is important that every Nigerian woman know the 5 key facts discussed below on this deadly cancer.

1. For cervical cancer in Nigeria; it is a national crisis

It is estimated that about 26 women die in Nigeria each day due to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women in Nigeria after breast cancer.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations have helped reduce this deadly disease in large parts of developed world.

The highlights of the crisis of cervical cancer above shows that the mortality rate of cervical cancer in Nigeria is very high and it is a matter of urgent national emergency and public awareness.

Let me please indulge you further…………

2. What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a condition where the cells in the uterine cervix (mouth of the womb) grow out of control. The cervix is a narrow part of the uterus(womb) that contacts the upper part of the vagina. When the disease is “invasive”, the cancer cells may spread to the lungs, liver, bladder,vagina and rectum. Over 95% of women who develop cervical cancer are also found to have highly contagious Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV has be found to be the largest contributor to cervical cancer cases in Nigeria. It is the same virus that causes genital warts.

3. Women at risk of cervical

Sexually active women.

Women who may have had a sexually transmitted transmitted infection (STI) in the past; including HPV.

Women with weak immune system such as HIV.

Long term (over 5 years) oral contraceptive users. Oral contraceptive pills reduce the use of condom among women.

Smokers, as cigarette damage the cells of the users. Cigarette smoking increase cervical cancer risk by 2-5times.

Women with multiple sexual partners.

As the disease is slow to progress, it is most often diagnosed between 35 and 55years.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

The disease does not have any symptoms in the early stages. As it advances one may see symptoms such as bleeding after sex (contact bleeding), abnormal (foul smelling) vagina discharge or bleeding, longer and heavier bleeding than usual.
Further along in the disease, it can lead to backache, leg pain and swelling of the legs, blood in urine, change in bowel habit, weight loss and general feeling of illness and discomfort.

5. Testing and screening for cervical cancer in Nigeria

Missing your cervical screening could be the difference between life and death. It is recommended that all women older than 30years screen for HPV every 3 years. For every 1,000 women who get screened, there are 8 fewer cervical cancer related deaths.

The testing process sets out to detect the presence or absence of abnormal cells in the cervix and allows for commencement of early treatment if required. Early detection of cervical cancer through periodic screeening and ssubsequent treatment is far less costly and economical than detecting and treating it at its advanced stage.

In screening for cervical cancer in Nigeria, pap smear is the commonest and cheapest tool used in most health facilities. Newer and more reliable screening tools are the Liquid Based Cytology (LBC) and HPV DNA test.

I will discuss more on pap smear in my next post. Thank you.

Read more on cervical cancer on WebMD

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