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Cervical Cancer and HPV: What Women Should Know

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What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix which the lower part of the uterus that links to the vagina. It is the 2nd most common type of cancer affecting women in Nigeria. It is mostly caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

There are over 170 types of HPV. Only 12 are considered to be carcinogenic to humans and play a role in causing most cervical cancer.

85% of new cases of cervical cancer and 90% of deaths occurring from cervical cancer come from low and middle income countries.

How is it transmitted?

HPV is most transmitted through vaginal, anal, oral sex and other intimate, skin-to-skin contact. The infection passes easily between sexual partners.

They are usually harmless and cleared by the body in one or two years. Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types particularly, types 16 and 18 is the main cause of cervical cancer (in about 75% of cases.

What are the symptoms?

In the early stages of the infection, symptoms do not normally show. However, in advanced stages, symptoms may include:

1.Vaginal bleeding after intercourse

2. Bleeding between periods or even after menopause

3.Watery or bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy with a foul odour

4. finally, Pain during intercourse and pelvic pain

How will I know if I have the infection?

Simply go for a screening. Pap test (for people aged 21 and above) and HPV test can confirm the presence of absence of the disease. A combination of both tests is infact recommended for women above 30 years. So it is advised to go for regular check ups.

Is it preventable?

It is important to note that cervical cancer is almost completely preventable. It can be prevented by vaccination against the high risk HPV types which cause most of the recorded HPV cases. This Vaccination against HPV is very effective and essential in preventing and fighting the disease. People as young as 11 years can get vaccinated.

Is it treatable?

There are treatments for the precancerous cell changes caused by infection with high-risk HPV. However, HPV infection itself cannot be treated,

This implies that if treatment is started at an early stage there is a high success rate of curing the person.

Stay safe and get tested.

A list of screening centers around Nigeria can be found here: https://www.askawayhealth.org/cervical-cancer-screening-centres-in-nigeria/

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