Cer­vi­cal can­cer to be zapped

Vuk'uzenzele - - Health -

STATE-OF-THE-ART ma­chines will help med­i­cal doc­tors de­tect cer­vi­cal can­cer in its early stages.

The KwaZulu-Natal Depart­ment of Health has in­vested about R900 000 in pur­chas­ing 15 new cer­vi­cal can­cer ma­chines.

Un­like many can­cers, can­cer of the cervix is pre­ventable and the new Large Loop Ex­ci­sion of the Trans­for­ma­tion Zone (LLETZ) ma­chines make it eas­ier to de­tect ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the cervix that could lead to can­cer.

The LLETZ is said to be one of the most ef­fec­tive pro­ce­dures to pre­vent can­cer of the cervix oc­cur­ring in women who have been iden­ti­fied as be­ing at high risk.

The func­tion of the LLETZ ma­chine is to con­duct a small, non-in­va­sive sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure on the woman’s cervix.

Us­ing elec­tri­cal cur­rent, the LLETZ pro­ce­dure re­moves that part of the cervix where the cells are be­com­ing ab­nor­mal and which might de­velop into can­cer.

These ab­nor­mal cells can be de­tected by a pap smear, which must be done reg­u­larly.

An im­por­tant fea­ture of can­cer of the cervix is that the dis­ease has a long pre-can­cer phase which lasts for sev­eral years. This pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to de­tect it by pap smear and then to treat it with the LLETZ pro­ce­dure be­fore it pro­gresses to can­cer.

The new ma­chines will there­fore in­crease the ca­pac­ity to pre­vent can­cer of the cervix in KwaZulu-Natal by al­low­ing this pro­ce­dure to be avail­able in more sites.

Cur­rently, 17 hos­pi­tals in the prov­ince have these pur­pose-de­signed, func­tion­ing LLETZ ma­chines

The ma­chines will be dis­trib­uted at Nkandla, Eshowe, Bene­dic­tine, Nkon­jeni, Osindis­weni and King Din­uzulu hos­pi­tals.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Dr Si­bongiseni Dhlomo said the ma­chines will be used by med­i­cal of­fi­cers be­cause the prov­ince does not have on­col­o­gists in far flung ar­eas.

“From now on­wards, with the ad­vent of LLETZ pro­ce­dures, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral-based hos­pi­tals, we are sure to treat this form of ail­ment be­fore it pro­gresses to can­cer, which again, we em­pha­sise, is pre­ventable,” said MEC Dhlomo.

Med­i­cal of­fi­cers have been trained to use the ma­chines and the aim of the pro­gramme is to fo­cus more on preven­tion by en­sur­ing that ab­nor­mal­i­ties are de­tected early. Wait­ing times for cer­vi­cal can­cer treat­ment will also be re­duced.

Cer­vi­cal can­cer caused by HPV

Dr Neil Mo­ran, head of the clin­i­cal ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy with the KwaZulu-Natal Depart­ment of Health, said the cause of cer­vi­cal can­cer is the hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) which is a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease that is ex­tremely com­mon.

“A large pro­por­tion of young sex­u­ally ac­tive peo­ple would have been in­fected with this virus. It doesn’t cause symp­toms and peo­ple wouldn’t know that they have the virus.

“For most peo­ple, the body gets ride of the virus nat­u­rally. In a small pro­por­tion of women, the virus re­mains in the cervix which will cause changes to the cells of the cervix and make them ab­nor­mal.”

Dr Mo­ran added that ab­nor­mal cells can de­velop into can­cer of the cervix over a long pe­riod of time.

“This means there is a pre-can­cer­ous phase which gives us time to pre­vent the dis­ease.

“Treat­ment of can­cer is com­pli­cated but the preven­tion of it by re­mov­ing ab­nor­mal cells is very sim­ple.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.