Learn, screen, and prevent cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer ribbon. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

As we begin the month of February, a question comes to mind: How many Kenyans knew January was a month of cervical cancer awareness? Did we do justice in creating awareness on the killer disease? How many teal ribbons did we see on the streets? For the women, did you receive teal ribbons from your churches as is the norm in most places of worship during the month of October when pink is spread all over?

At the sight of a pink ribbon, many relate it to breast cancer. But how many people can relate to teal or white with cervical cancer? A majority of us don’t even know that teal is a colour, one which is used for cervical cancer awareness. But why is this so? Maybe there hasn’t been adequate sensitisation campaigns on cervical cancer as has been in the case for breast cancer.

Cervical cancer is a killer disease, and the fourth most common cancer in women. Two women lose their lives to the disease every day, and each day, nine women are also diagnosed, yet 75 per cent of the cases can be prevented. This year, the Cervical Health Awareness Month Theme was “Learn. Prevent. Screen”.

The theme emphasized the necessity of educating people about minimising cervical cancer risks and promoting regular check-ups. This can be done through PAP Smear, which takes about two weeks to get the results or Visual Inspection, where one can get the results and get treatment or referral the same day they visit the health facility.

As per the World Health Organisation, the global incidence of cervical cancer in 2020 was estimated to be 604, 000 new cases and 342,000 deaths. About 90 per cent of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries with Kenya falling into this bracket.

The disease is mostly caused by a virus called HPV- Human Papilloma Virus, which is commonly a transmitted infection that affects the skin, genital area and throat. Regular screening can detect and help prevent cervical cancer.

Signs for cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, or having menstrual periods that are longer or heavier than usual. Together we can fight the killer disease. Cervical cancer is preventable, treatable and curable. Learn, prevent, screen, and let us say no to cervical cancer.

Ms Mwanja is a women rights activist; [email protected]