Medical experts are advising more women to get Pap smear tests done to know if they are at risk of cervical cancer, as the disease is ranked a leading cause of cancer deaths in Nigeria.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 14,089 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Nigeria. This is why the organisation has ranked the disease as the second leading cause of female cancer in Nigeria and most common in women aged 15 to 44 years in Nigeria.
One medical practitioner based in Lagos said most women in Nigeria lack the knowledge of how and why they need to do Pap smear test.
“It is better to come for check-up, most Nigeria women do not know much about to cervical cancer because of the poor response to Pap smear test awareness in the country,” said the medical practitioner.
The medical practitioner added that one of the challenges most women face is, they are keen by the doctors they want to see, “you have right to tell the facility whom you are comfortable with, either a male or a female doctor”
“Early detection will, give you more chance to survive and there is so much that can be done to prevent or cure it”, he added.
Makwe Catherine, a specialist in women’s health said that every woman deserves access to quality healthcare information and services, Cervical cancer affects woman at the average age of 50, but it can affect woman as young as 20.
“Pap test should be every three years for women between 25 and 49 years old. The Human papillomavirus (HPV) test detects the cancerous cells and HPV vaccine protects against the types of HVP that most often cause cancer” said Catherine.
She explained that cervical cancer originates from uterine cervix, the neck of the womb, which is located at the lower end of the uterus extending into the upper part of the vagina.
Adding that in later stages, symptoms include: heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge (more than usual), bleeding after sex, between periods or after a pelvic exam, pain during sex or urination.
However, Runcie Chidebe, executive director, Project PINK BLUE, a Health and Psychological Trust Centre (HPTC) in Abuja, said there is no systematic screenings program in Nigeria. What we have is sporadic screenings, where non-governmental organisations (NGOs) organise here and there.
“There is a need for the Federal Government to mandate that all Public Health Centre( PHC) through the State Levels to ensure that once a woman comes into any PHC, she must go for cervical cancer screening like Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid ”he added.