IN THE NEWS Cer­vi­cal cancer screen­ing cru­cial

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - OPINION -

EARLY de­tec­tion is key to stop­ping cer­vi­cal cancer in its tracks and the provincial De­part­ment of Health (DOH) has urged all women in the North­ern Cape to have reg­u­lar check-ups in or­der to limit the need­less deaths caused by this dis­ease.

Septem­ber is Cer­vi­cal Cancer Aware­ness Month and the DOH will be ed­u­cat­ing the public on the is­sue, while also giv­ing women ac­cess to screen­ing, treat­ment, care and sup­port in or­der to im­prove their qual­ity of life and re­duc­ing ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity.

“Our women must know their bod­ies and should con­duct reg­u­lar self-ex­am­i­na­tions to de­tect lumps in their breasts and by mon­i­tor­ing ab­nor­mal men­stru­a­tion cy­cle.” said MEC for Health, Le­bo­gang Motl­hap­ing.

“Cer­vi­cal cancer screen­ing is by far the best and safest method of iden­ti­fy­ing cervix cell changes and early cer­vi­cal can­cers be­fore they cause symp­toms.”

This comes af­ter the na­tional de­part­ment re­cently launched its Cer­vi­cal Cancer Pol­icy, aimed at pre­ven­tion and con­trol along with the in­tro­duc­tion of a new screen­ing tech­nique called liq­uid-based cy­tol­ogy.

This method is viewed as an im­prove­ment on pap smear tech­niques and con­sid­ered more com­fort­able while still pro­duc­ing re­li­able re­sults.

The early signs and symp­toms of cer­vi­cal cancer in­clude painful sex­ual in­ter­course, ab­nor­mal men­stru­a­tion, ab­nor­mal vagi­nal bleed­ing or ab­nor­mal vagi­nal dis­charge, fa­tigue, nau­sea and weight loss.

Ac­cord­ing to the South African Jour­nal of Ob­stet­rics and Gy­nae­col­ogy, cer­vi­cal cancer af­fects one out of 41 South African women.

It is es­ti­mated that this dis­ease kills ap­prox­i­mately eight women in the coun­try ev­ery day while the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) projects that this num­ber will in­crease to about 12 deaths per day by 2025.

These statis­tics are all the more alarm­ing con­sid­er­ing that cer­vi­cal cancer is a pre­ventable dis­ease.

Mean­while, in an ef­fort to man­age and con­trol this dis­ease, the de­part­ment, through the In­te­grated School Health Pro­gramme, has con­tin­ued with its sec­ond round of the HPV im­mu­ni­sa­tion for Grade 4 girl pupils to com­plete their course.

Spokesper­son for the DOH, Le­bo­gang Ma­haja, said that this cam­paign would be run­ning un­til the end of the month and was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“Dur­ing the first round of the HPV cam­paign, the North­ern

Cape achieved 70.5 per­cent in pupil dose cov­er­age against a tar­get of 80 per­cent and a school cov­er­age of 65.2 per­cent against a tar­get of 100 per­cent,” he said.

“The tar­get for the sec­ond round pupil cov­er­age is 80 per­cent with a 100 per­cent school cov­er­age.” – Mur­ray Swart

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