Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women (after breast cancer) and the leading cause of cancer deaths in Kenya.
According to a past report, there has been some stigma associated with this type of cancer especially since the infection, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is mostly transmitted through sex.
However, sex doesn't have to occur for the infection to spread. All that is needed is skin-to-skin contact with an area of the body infected with HPV.
More so, cervical cancer does not typically cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages, and someone can be infected and pass it on without knowing. Deaths usually occur 15 to 25 years after infection.
According to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Sicily Kariuki, here are the ten measures to prevent one from getting infected:
1. Promoting the reduction of high-risk sexual behaviour.
2. Discouraging tobacco use or cigarette smoking.
3. Abstinence or delayed sexual debut for adolescents.
4. Faithfulness to one partner for those in relationships.
5. Condom use (some offer protection against HPV but they don’t completely prevent infection. One reason that condoms cannot protect completely is that they don’t cover every possible HPV-infected area of the body, such as the skin of the genital or anal area).
6. Screening at least once every five years for those who are HIV-negative.
7. Those who are HIV-positive should be screened every year (It is important to check for abnormal cells, so they can be monitored and treated early).
8. Vaccination (These vaccines only work to prevent HPV infection. They will not treat an infection that is already there).
9. Having a balanced. In order for your body to function well, you need to have all the nutrients.
10. Male circumcision
Nonetheless, cervical cancer is treatable if diagnosed early. Treatment is available at level 5 and 6 health facilities (referral hospitals) in the country.
Often, treatment involves surgical removal of the uterus in which case the patient may not have children.
The current number of cervical cancer cases stands at 5,250 every year. It is estimated that by 2025, there will be at least 6,000 new cases per year if action is not taken.
Doctors link the high death rates to late diagnosis, shame in seeking treatment, low income, and fear of being diagnosed with the disease.
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