It was a calm morning in the Emergency Room.
Two young men between the ages of 20 and 25years came in holding a very ill and frail woman. We quickly gave her a bed and started her management with a quick assessment and subsequently took the history of her illness. 2 years ago, she noticed that she was bleeding outside of her normal menses. She also noticed some bleeding after sexual intercourse and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. She reported to the hospital for care where the doctor after talking to her and examining her, made an initial diagnosis of cervical cancer. She was asked to do some investigations and to report back in a week. But that was not to be. Immediately she left the hospital, she denounced the diagnosis and headed straight to a herbalist/ spiritualist on the other side of town😱. where she had since been receiving concoctions for drinking and bathing. Two years down the line, the problem has gotten worse and she was dying😢. Her youngest son who was living with her got concerned about her health and insisted they return to the hospital and that is how I met them.
Speaking to her sons, they had no idea she had any such diagnosis as cervical cancer. Sadly she battled this alone😢…hmm
It’s January and cervical cancer awareness month. What better time to talk about cervical cancer than now?
What is cervical cancer?
Simply put, it is cancer that affects the “mouth” of the uterus. Cervical cancer is one of the commonest cancers affecting women worldwide but is more common in low-income countries like ours. The good news however is, Cervical Cancer is preventable.
What causes Cervical Cancer?
Over 90% of cervical cancer is caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Sexual transmission of certain types of commonly HPV puts one at high risk especially HPV 16 & 18 (WHO 2020)
Risk Factors for Cervical cancer
Ø Multiple sexual partners
Ø Early sexual contact
Ø Prolonged used of oral contraception( 5 years or more)
Ø HIV Infection
Cervical cancer could be asymptomatic or symptomatic. The following are some symptoms;
This means not showing symptoms. It takes some time before cervical cancer would present with the symptoms mentioned above, hence the need to screen.
Do you have persistent vaginal discharge? Is the discharge so heavy you sometimes fee you may be menstruating when you’re not? Is it offensive? Have you gotten it checked out? 🤔Still comfortably using ginger and garlic as though you were steaming meat down there,🤨 hmm? Madam, Arise! for salvation is there for you in the hospital.✅
Heavy/ Prolonged menstrual bleeding
It’s important for every woman to be familiar with her menstrual cycle. One of the early symptoms of cervical cancer is bleeding outside of your normal menses. Another cardinal symptom is bleeding when any object comes into contact with your cervix (eg: finger, tampon, penis, etc). Any vaginal bleeding that is not your normal menses could be something sinister like cervical cancer😱. Get it checked out. Better safe than sorry!!
Lifestyle changes can’t be over-emphasized and are summarized below.Google Image
Screening for cervical cancer has been the pivotal preventive tool for cervical cancer, especially in first world countries. It can take up to 7 to 10 years for symptoms of cancer to appear. Screening, however, allows early detection of the disease at a stage where treatment is relatively easier and certainly less expensive than treatment of advanced stage of cancer.
Seize the opportunity today and get a pap smear done😊. It is widely available, easy to perform, and reliable.
Until, I come your way again next time, spread the word about screening, and stay safe out there. 👍🏾
Mask up, people!😷 COVID is still out there