It all started as pain during sexual intercourse with her partner, then she started noticing abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, unusual vaginal discharge, and heavier periods – these made Vivian very troubled and uncomfortable, and prompted her actions to seek help medically.


On visiting her doctor, she was interviewed, examined, and a Pap smear was conducted. The next day, she visited, her results were ready, and her Pap smear revealed she had abnormal malignant cells in her cervix: a sign of cervical cancer.


Vivian was scheduled for further investigation and subsequently, an operation was done to get rid of the abnormal cells – she was lucky to discover on time when cancer hadn’t spread to other parts of her body (metastasis). After successful surgery, she got vaccinated and lives happily and healthily with her family.


What happened in Vivian’s case?


First, she never prioritized her health; she wrongly thought she could not get cervical cancer because she didn’t have it in her family.


Secondly, she never went for Pap smear screening every 3 years or even HPV test, she never saw a need to get screened: forgetting it’s the best form of prevention.


Furthermore, she never knew 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, whereas HPV 6 & 11 cause genital warts.


Fourthly, despite Vivian knew HPV is mostly spread through vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral sex, and can infect anyone sexually active. What she didn’t know is that – It is not spread through bodily fluid alone hence cannot be prevented completely using a condom. In addition, since 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.


Lastly, she thought she had passed the age to get vaccinated against HPV, not knowing even women up to 45 years can be vaccinated.


To find out more on how to prevent cervical cancer via screening and vaccination contact Inocul8 08160962414.


Dr. Emmanuel Egbroko


Dr. Emmanuel Egbroko is a Clinician with over 10 years experience in the infectious disease space. He specializes in the field of infectious diseases, vaccinology, and immunology. He leads the vaccine unit at the Inocul8 Medvacc Family Immunization Clinic, Lagos State, Nigeria.

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