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Why you should go get that pap smear urgently

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by BAK, May 13, 2009.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    #1
    May 13, 2009
    Joined: Feb 11, 2007
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    Why you should go get that pap smear urgently
    By Trizah Mwanyika


    13th May 2009emailPrintCommentsAccording to statistics from the World Health Organisation, women from East Africa are the most affected by cervical cancer. Out of 10,000 cancer cases, 42.7 percent of patients suffer from cervical cancer.

    Out of 2,869 patients who have been diagnosed with cancer at Ocean Road Hospital, 955 patients are women with cervical cancer. Detecting the disease early, through the pap smear, increases one’s chances of survival: -


    At 40 years of age and weighing just 40kg, Mwanahamadi is almost invisible on her hospital bed at the Ocean Road Cancer Hospital where she is undergoing treatment for cervical cancer.

    “It was six years ago when it all started with sharp pains in the pelvic area, and a lot of blood clots,” she narrates.

    “I thought it was those days when I had heavy flow during my periods. It persisted, but I took pain killers made from traditional medicine, which stopped the pain, whenever I used it.”

    Mwanahamadi says although the pain persisted over the six years, she was only forced to seek medical attention early this year when the pain worsened.

    Mwanahamadi is just one among many women suffering from cervical cancer, the most common cancer affecting women worldwide and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in developing countries.

    According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), women from East Africa are the most affected. Out of 10,000 cancer cases, 42.7 percent suffer from cervical cancer.

    This is followed by Southern Africa with 38.2 percent and West Africa with 29.3 percent of cancer patients with cervical cancer. Statistics from WHO show that 69 out of 100,000 women in Tanzania have cervical cancer.

    The Director of Medical Services at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) Dr. Khamza Maunda said most women seeking treatment at the hospital are diagnosed with cervical cancer.

    “The number of cervical cancer patients we have received is high, compared to any other type of cancer and most of them seek treatment when it is too late to be treated.”

    Out of 2,869 patients who have been diagnosed with cancer at Ocean Road Hospital, 955 patients are women with cervical cancer.

    Speaking at a meeting organised by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) in Kigamboni recently, Dr Khamza said more than 6,000 cervical cancer patients die annually, as more than 7,500 new cases are diagnosed each year.

    World Health Organization states that cervical cancer is prevalent in women aged between 15 and 44 years.

    The cause of cervical cancer has been attributed to early engagement in sexual activities and multiple sexual partners. In most situations, a woman’s risk of getting cervical cancer will depend less on her sexual behaviour but more on that of her husband or male partner since the disease can be transmitted from one woman to another with men acting as carriers.

    Usually women contract the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) around their late teenage years and their early 30’s. Some other factors that contribute to cervical cancer are long-term use of hormonal contraceptives; tobacco smoking and co-infection with HIV have been identified as established co-factors.


    However Dr Khamza said the disease can be detected early through a pap smear test which looks for cancer cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

    The pap smear is recommended for all women and the most important thing a woman can avoid getting cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests which are offered for free at Ocean Road Hospital.

    The HPV vaccine has been introduced to protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulva cancers.

    The vaccine which is administered in a series of three shots is recommended for girls between the ages of 11 and 26 years.

    According to WHO, cervical cancer does not show signs and symptoms, but advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for a woman, such as bleeding after sex.

    Dr Khamza says that other types of cancer that affect women the most are breast, Kaposi Sarcoma and cancer of the liver, while in men, Kaposi Sarcoma leads because it is HIV-related, cancer of the liver, the prostate and cancer of the bladder.

    He also said that generally, the number of new cancer cases have increased rapidly in Tanzania.

    In 1990, only 1,500 new cases were reported. However, the number grew to 2,200 new cases in 2000 and last year it shot up to 3,480.

    “Each year, about 35,000 new cancer cases are reported, while 27,000 patients die from cancer, each year”.

    Dr Khamza has attributed the high mortality rate to lateness in seeking treatment, lack of infrastructure and technical expertise.

    He says, “Only 10 percent of cancer cases reach Ocean Road Cancer Institute and 75-80 percent of patients who seek treatment, are in the advanced stage.”

    Most specialised treatment is conducted at Ocean Road Hospital where they offer cryotherapy, LEEP – precancerous lesions, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonotherapy, combined chemo-radiation and palliative care.

    The government of Tanzanian is scaling up treatment of cancer by offering free cancer treatment and planning to establish a new centre for radiotherapy at Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza.

    Dr. Khamza also said government is planning to set up a cancer centre for each zone, which will help in detecting cancer in the early stages, and also to help raise cancer awareness.

    ”It is a challenge to manage and maintain the effects of cancer in this country. Some of the challenges noted are lack of infrastructure and expertise for clinical as well as diagnostic work, lack of qualified staff in health facilities as well as poor referral system for cancer patients.”

    Currently, Tanzania has just six oncologists and only one oncology nurse. “At the same time, most doctors in primary health care settings do not have oncology knowledge because most universities in Tanzania do not provide oncology training”.


    Dr Khamza added that only 20 percent of 38 million people in Tanzania have access to just three radiotherapy machines available at Ocean Road Hospital.

    He notes that for the cancer awareness campaign to succeed, there must be a cancer registry as a central point for data on cancer patients.

    There is also a need to establish diagnostic and treatment facilities as well as establishing training programs and centres.

    - Trizah Mwanyika is a journalist from the Association of Media Women in Kenya currently attached with Tanzania Media women Association (TAMWA) under Fredskorpset exchange programme.

    SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
     
  2. M

    MissKitim Member

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    May 13, 2009
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    Mmhhh habari nzuri na ya kuelimisha....
    Ukweli wananchi wengi hawana uelewa wa hii cervical cancer na mbaya zaidi sio jadi kwa watanzania kucheki afya zao mara kwa mara. Hugutuka wakati its already too late
     
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