Cervical cancer kills 9 women every day in Kenya

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi. Image courtesy.

Cervical cancer affects the neck of the womb and it is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. According to the ministry of health, Cervical cancer kills 9 women every day in Kenya.

 It has also been proven as the third most common malignancy in women worldwide according to the World Health Organization. 

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It remains a leading cause of cancer-related death for women in the world

Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor of the cervix which is the lowest part of the uterus. It occurs when cells in the cervix grow out of control and may spread to other body parts. 

 All women are at risk of contracting cervical cancer. It is more common in women aged above 30 years with the average age of diagnosis being 50 years . 

It rarely develops in women younger than 20 years.

According to the American Cancer Society 14,100 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed daily. It also estimates that about 4,280 women die from cervical cancer daily.

The main cause of cervical cancer is long lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse. 

Most people become infected with HPV when they become sexually active, and most people clear the virus without problems. Important thing to note is that not all HPV strains are linked to cancer.

Experts predict that cervical cancer can also be caused by lowered immune system deficiency , smoking, herpes-women with genital herpes have a high risk of developing cervical cancer. 

Other medical conditions such as exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) increases one’s chances of developing cervical cancer.

Most of the symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after vaginal sex and bleeding after menopause. Other symptoms of cervical cancer include having longer or heavier periods than usual and pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.

There are two main types of cervical cancer: Adenocarcinoma which is a type of cervical cancer that begins in the column shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal. The other type of cervical cancer is Squamous cell carcinoma that begins in the thin, flat cells lining the outer part of the cervix which projects into the vagina.

The risk factor of developing cervical cancer include: Age-more common in women above 30 years, Early sexual activity-it increases your risk of HPV, smoking-it is associated with squamous cervical cancer and a weakened immune system. Another risk is exposure to miscarriage prevention drugs such as diethylstilbestrol (DES).

Cervical cancer may be diagnosed using a Pap test that is able to detect abnormal cells in the cervix including cancer cells. It can also be diagnosed using a HPV DNA test which tests cells collected from the cervix for infection with any type of HPV that may lead to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer may be prevented by having regular screenings with Pap tests and HPV tests to find any precancers and treat them. 

Another primary prevention method is vaccination against HPV types 16 and 18. The vaccines are most effective when it is given to women aged 9 to 26 according to CDC recommendation.

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