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Cervical cancer a top killer

10 August 2017

LOCAL women are being urged to come forward freely to conduct screening for cervical cancer even though their body is well.

This came after the recent report produced by the National referral Hospital (NRH) sees cervical cancer as topping the list of cancers killing people in the country recently.

The report produced by NRH shows that from 2004 to 2014, the country recorded 303 cases which in 2015, 48 cases and in 2016, 50 cases.

The report said that cervical cancer will surpass the figures for the last years seen by the end of this year 2017.

Cervical cancer is a cancer of the mouth or opening of the uterus (baby bag).

The report said that the underlying cause of cervical cancer is infection with HPV virus a very common virus that is transmitted sexually.

Most HPV virus resolves spontaneously. However those that persist that may lead to pre-cancer or cervical cancer. There are risk factors that increase your chance of developing this disease are includes smoking, having sex at early age, and having partner with multiple partners.

The report said that this cancer dangerous is it is asymptomatic in its early stages, meaning the woman will feel just normal.

It is when the disease start to get serious that woman will start to notice signs and have symptoms of the cancer itself.

That is why it is important for all women to have screening for cervical cancer even though they feel absolutely well.

Most signs and symptoms include abnormal bleeding and foul smelly discharge, pelvic pain, difficulty passing bowels and urine.

When a woman has these symptoms most time the disease has already spread from its initial location.

The report said that Cervical Cancer is clinically staged into 4 stages. These four stages are practiced internationally by all Gynaecological doctors.

It is also use by local gynaecologists here in NRH.

The staging is done by a doctor and treatment is based on the various stages. The stages are simplified below:

Stage 1. Microscopic. Localized and confined to the cervix only (No spread yet)

Stage 2. Spreads and involves vagina and parametrium (space outside vaginal)

Stage 3. Spreads and involves nearby organs e.g. rectum, urinary bladder

Stage 4. Spreads to distant metastasis e.g. lungs

It added that at the NRH this is what they will do;

 For stage 1, surgery can achieve cure. This is by a simple or radical hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus or baby bag).

Stages 2- Stage 4 requires more expensive and complex treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Treatment for cure of stage 2-4 is not available in our country Solomon Islands. If one is lucky, she can go abroad to access this treatment. Otherwise she will be faced with the consequences of not having treatment for this late stage.

For this late stages (stage 2 to stage 4), what is done locally here in NRH is termed as palliative care only. This means the cancer cannot be cured at this late stage but we can give you certain medications just to relieve your suffering and symptoms. These include pain relief and blood transfusions.

Thus the local implication of this cancer is serious because we can only treat stage one but the irony is that the majority of our women present in stage 2-3.

It is very important that women must prevent it before it affected them.

The report said that the best way to treat this huge cancer burden is not to have it at the first place. This is where screening for cervical cancer comes in.

There is the conventional paps smear method where a swab of your cervix is done by a trained nurse or doctor and sent overseas for pre-cancer lesions. When an early lesion is identified then it is easily treated.

Newer methods being piloted include vaccination for the HPV virus in young school age girls. These aims to prevent the HPV germ from causing changes in the cervix that might lead to cervical cancer.

Another method is the VIA and cryotherapy.

These methods uses a kind of acid or dye to detect abnormality in the cervix and it its detected it gets treated right away.

The report said that last two methods are recently introduced in the country and in their early stages as compared to the conventional smear. However all of the methods are useful in early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

“Cervical cancer must not be seen as a women’s issue alone. It has developmental and socioeconomic issues.”

The report said that NRH needs support and commitment from the government level and all stake holders by way of programmes, policies, and monetary support if we are to win the fight against cervical cancer.

“Women are the back bone of the home and family and contribute a lot to the development of our country. When a woman has advance cervical cancer, the whole house hold is affected including the children and fathers.

“The whole family is in agony when the sad news is broken to them that nothing can be done. We have seen husbands in pain and tears. Young children are left motherless. The silence of this disease is loud and the suffering palpable.

“The importance of early screening cannot be over emphasized. If you have any abnormal symptoms go to the nearest health centre or better still, get your cervix checked even though you feel absolutely well.”






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