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Early Tests Can Reduce Cervical Cancer Deaths

Adapted from Daily Nation
Gatonye Gathura

30 December 2010
Nairobi — As the year ends tonight, almost 2,000 women will have died from cervical cancer in the last 12 months.

Cervical cancer, mainly caused by a sexually transmitted virus, attacks some 2,454 women annually but only about 700 survive.

While breast cancer leads in newly diagnosed cases annually, it has higher survival rates compared to cancer of the cervix, a year-end review revealsA World Health Organisation review of cervical and other cancers caused by the Human Papiloma Virus in Kenya also shows an increase in anal tumours, attributed to an increase of HIV and homosexuals.

While periodic screening has been known to catch the HPV early, only four per cent of women are checked for it.

The report recommends the establishment of a well-organised cervical screening programme.

“In addition, male circumcision and the use of condoms have shown a significant protection against HPV transmission.”

New HPV vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, also help.

Gardasil was approved in the US last week to prevent anal cancer among males and females aged between 9 and 26.

It has also been approved for cervical and vaginal cancers and for genital warts in both sexes.

The world health body, has compiled a country by country analysis of cervical cancer “to help decision makers formulate recommendations on prevention, including the implementation of newly developed vaccines.”
The report estimates that Kenya has more than 4,000 new cervical cancer cases annually.

Almost a third of all Kenyan women harbour cervical HPV infection, but the body will often fight off the virus except in some leading to cervical cancers.

Although a distant second, the other cause of cervical cancers is the birth control Pill.

The report says that 7.5 per cent of the new cervical cancer cases in Kenya were caused by the use of the Pill.

The report acknowledges the possible association between cervical cancer and oral contraceptives pills but does not recommend any change, arguing that their benefits far outweighs the risks.

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