Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Uganda and ranks the 4th most common cancer in the world.
It starts as a HPV infection on the ecto cervix in a region known as the Transformation Zone, which if not detected and treated early, can progress into invasive cancer.
Signs and symptoms
- Increased offensive/bloody (or both) discharge per vagina
- Painful intercourse
- Bleeding when not in normal periods
- Low back pain and abdominal pain
- Women increase their exposure to HPV infections through multiple sex partners and prolonged genital and pelvic infections.
- Young girls who indulge in early sex are also at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer in the future.
- HPV vaccination for young girls aged 10 and those in primary four (MOH campaign) develops their antibody response to HPV types included to more than 98%.
- Screening for cervical cancer in sexually active women facilitates early detection of pre-cancerous lesions and timely treatment interventions using thermocoagulation. This terminates HPV infections before they cause malignant cells around the cervix.
Confirmed cases of cervical cancer are managed at the cancer institute with treatment options ranging from surgery, radiography, chemotherapy as may be preferred by the oncologist.
Linkage to palliative care
For Uganda, all young girls 10yrs and those in P.4 should get their two doses of HPV vaccinations, 6 months apart.
Women, with history of sexual activity ought to screen for cervical cancer every 3 years and every year for HIV positive women.
It’s a lot easier to treat HPV infections before they advance into cancer. The treatment can be accessed at community level facilities like NAWEC and Mukono general hospital in Mukono district.
Screening for cancer of the cervix is a routine and should not wait for signs of cervical cancer