What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix of a female reproductive tract. It is the 2nd most common cancer amongst women in Nigeria, especially women of reproductive age 15 to 49 years.
How common is cervical cancer in Nigeria?
An estimated 14,943 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Nigeria, and 10,403 of them die from the disease (High mortality rate).
Who is at risk of cervical cancer?
An estimated 50.33 million women of reproductive age 15 to 49 are at risk of developing cervical cancer in Nigeria. However, a woman who gets sexually exposed at an early age and women who have multiple sexual partners have higher risk of contracting the virus. Other risks include; smoking (including passive smokers), poor genital hygiene, being black (race), low immunity.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
In the early stages cervical cancer is asymptomatic (shows no symptoms) but as the disease progress the following symptoms appears:
- Vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause, or during or after sexual intercourse
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
- Heavier periods or periods that last longer than usual.
What are the causes of cervical cancer?
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) a highly contagious sexually transmitted virus. There are over 100 strains of HPV but strains 16 & 18 are highly implicated as the major cause of cervical cancer.
How is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) contracted?
- HPV is mostly spread through vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral sex, and can infect anyone who is sexually active. It is not spread through bodily fluid alone hence cannot be prevented completely using condom.
- HPV is also spread through skin-to-skin contact with an area of the body infected with the virus thus never having sex doesn’t guarantee not being infected.
- HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer, cancer of the anus, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer, cancer of the penis (in men) and warts among others.
How do I Prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer?
Get tested and vaccinated. A Pap smear screening is recommended once a woman starts having sex this will help detect cervical cancer early, as it gives no symptom at the early stage, and should be done at least once in 5 years.
What’s the best means of cervical cancer prevention?
Vaccination is the best and most effective means to prevent cervical cancer.
What are the available vaccines against HPV infection and cervical cancer?
- A bivalent vaccine (Cervarix) which protects against HPV 16 and 18 strains and is recommended for only females to prevent cervical cancer.
- A quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil) protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 this protects against cervical cancer and other cancers and genital wart caused by the HPV infection, and is recommended for both females and males.
How are the vaccines administered?
- HPV vaccines are usually given in three doses over a six month period (0,1,6 months).
- The same brand of vaccine is administered for all three doses.
- The vaccines are given before a person becomes exposed to HPV thus as from 9 years girls should be vaccinated against HPV infection.
Where is the vaccine administered?
It is given intramuscularly in the deltoid region of the upper arm.
Can boys be vaccinated as well?
Yes. Vaccinating boys against HPV helps protect girls by preventing transmission. However, Gardasil must be used.
How do I get vaccinated?
Book for your vaccination by clicking here