January is typically recognised as a cervical cancer awareness month. This month, organisations and individuals worldwide focus on raising awareness of the importance of cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection. It is typically slow-growing cancer and can often be detected early through regular cervical cancer screenings, such as the pap test or the HPV test. If caught early, cervical cancer is often highly treatable.
However, if it is not detected until it has reached a later stage, it can be more difficult to treat and life-threatening.
In Kenya, cervical cancer is a major public health concern, as it is the most common cancer among women in the country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of cervical cancer in Kenya is 27.8 cases per 100,000 women, and the mortality rate is 14.8 deaths per 100,000 women.
The WHO also reports that in Kenya, the majority of cases of cervical cancer occur in women aged 30-39 years. It can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of women. It is important for individuals and organisations in the country to work towards reducing the number of cases of this preventable and treatable disease.
By increasing awareness about cervical cancer and encouraging women to prioritise their health, we can work towards reducing the number of cases.
There are several steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer. Getting vaccinated against HPV is an important step.
Practising safe sex and limiting the number of sexual partners can also help to reduce the risk of HPV infection and the subsequent risk of cervical cancer. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer, as can eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Regular cervical cancer screenings, such as the pap or HPV test, can help identify precancerous cells and allow for early treatment, which can greatly increase the chances of a full recovery.
On the other side, the Ministry of Health should ensure that individuals have access to quality medical care, which makes a big difference in the fight against cervical cancer. Supporting local research and development is equally important in identifying new and more effective ways to prevent, detect, and treat cervical cancer.
Mr Dollarman Fatinato is the youth coordinator at Centre for the Study of Adolescence. [email protected]. @DollarmanKE