Cervical Cancer cases: Namibia ranked fourth

…Cancer Association of Namibia encourages early screening and detection

BY JO-MARIE ORTNER

CERVICAL cancer remains one of the most dangerous cancers that affect women in Namibia and across the globe where it is the fourth most frequent cancer in women.

In the country, with a population of close to a million women who are aged 15 years or older, cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer, after breast cancer and is regarded as the leading cancer killer of women. Current estimates indicate that every year more than 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 135 die from the disease.

Cervical cancer is one of the leading malignancies taking third place amongst women aged 15–44 years. Infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been proven to increase women’s susceptibility to developing cervical carcinoma. Sadly, Namibia carries a twin burden of HIV and cervical cancer. Namibians are aware of HIV/AIDS, but remain poorly informed about cervical cancer. Furthermore, among those who are aware of the disease, low utilisation of screening tests have been reported.

The dialogue around cervical cancer continues to be a vital one and with the rise in late cancer detection cases in the stage 4 phase cervical cancer screening continues to be of importance.

The Cancer Association this month joins the World in commemorating the cervical cancer screening awareness month, ensuring that cancer screening is an aspect that becomes of relevance amongst women nationwide to prompt early screening annually.

Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) Cancer Support and Youth Engagement Officer Registrar, Tareekuje Tjiriang told Confidente in an interview that although January is celebrated as the Cervical Cancer Awareness month, every month is a cancer awareness month and they is greater need to advocate for screening regardless of which month it is.

“January is about giving, cervical cancer recognition and to create awareness around the disease and encourage early screening. We use this time to make the community aware of the importance of cervical cancer screening, however every month is cancer screening month for us, and we advocate for it irrespective of which month it is.”he said.

Tjiriajane said cervical cancer screening ensures allows for a safe gap to ensure that patients when diagnosed are identified at an early stage to increase their chances of rumination and adviced women go for cervical cancer screening at least twice a year, unless results require more visits.

“Pap smears and VIVA are the two types of tests that are done in Namibia. These tests are used to detect cancerous lichen, the swab is taken from the genital area of a woman and put under a microscope and inspected and once cancerous lichens are detected this dictate whether a patient might need in depth screening,” he added. Additionally, he stated that Pap Smears are rapid tests which produce accurate results unless done in a careless manner and can detect viruses such as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted virus and is in some cases a contributing factor to cervical cancer.

“Yeast infections are also detectable. Visual Inspection with Acid (VIA) is the fastest way of testing for cancerous lichens, however, in Namibia it is only used for patients that are currently on HIV treatment.”

Tjiriajane recommended women go for cervical cancer testing from the time they become sexually active as HPV is sometimes a contributing factor.

“Close to340 known cases are recorded annually, however since not all women go for screening there might be more that carry the cancer. Screening can be done at any local clinic or the Cancer Association Clinic, additionally, the Cancer Association has an outreach programme where they travel nation-wide to promote screening in smaller towns and regions such Hardap region which they will be embarking on as of next week. The Association does Pap Smears and male prostate screening on these visits,” he eluded.

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