DRUM - - Advice -

Around 300 000 women, 80% of them in the de­vel­op­ing world, die from cer­vi­cal can­cer ev­ery year, says Pro­fes­sor Michael Herbst, a health spe­cial­ist at the Can­cer As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Cansa).

It’s a slow-grow­ing can­cer and may not have im­me­di­ate symp­toms but can be picked up with reg­u­lar pap smears, he says. “It’s much less com­mon in de­vel­oped coun­tries, such as the US, be­cause of the rou­tine pap smear screen­ing most women get,” he says.

“That is why it’s so im­por­tant for women to have reg­u­lar pap smears done,” Herbst adds.

“Most women who are di­ag­nosed with cer­vi­cal can­cer to­day haven’t had reg­u­lar pap smears or haven’t fol­lowed up on ab­nor­mal pap-smear re­sults.”

Herbst adds that cer­vi­cal can­cer tends to ap­pear dur­ing midlife – more than half of the women di­ag­nosed are be­tween the ages of 35 and 55. Women should start hav­ing pap smears from age 21 – how of­ten de­pends on their risk fac­tors.

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