During the month of September, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) places the focus on cervical cancer – a leading cause of death for women in developing countries. The lifetime risk for women developing cervical cancer in South Africa is one in 42 according to the 2007 National Cancer Registry statistics (http://www.cansa.org.za/womens-health/).
Photo courtesy: CANSA
The primary underlying cause of cervical cancer is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted through skin to skin contact and is a very common virus infecting most people at some point in their lives. There are many types of HPV and some of the virus types can infect the cells that could lead to cancer. About 40 types are sexually transmitted through genital contact while mostly two types (16 + 18) are considered high risk in South Africa (http://cansa.kansa.co.za/files/2014/08/Womens-Health-Infographic-ENG-CER...).
As persistent infection with HPV may lead to cervical cancer, CANSA encourages all women in the age group of 9-26 years (provided they are not sexually active) to get the HPV vaccine. The government is currently running the National Department of Health (DoH) HPV Vaccination Programme in all public schools, including former Model C, around South Africa, providing all grade four (9 to 10-year old girls) with the opportunity to receive the HPV vaccination. The DoH also provides an implementation guide to the schools, giving educators the necessary information regarding the vaccination and reducing the cancer risk (http://cansa.kansa.co.za/files/2014/08/HPV-FAQs-DOH.pdf).
“CANSA is grateful to the DoH for offering free HPV vaccinations to South African girls. As the leading force in cancer control in South Africa, CANSA is proud to stand with the government in educating all young women about the dangers of HPV and cervical cancer, and offer an opportunity to take their health in their own hands as cervical cancer can be effectively treated if detected and diagnosed early,” says CANSA Acting CEO, Elize Joubert.
When Maphuti Marogoa (49) went for her regular check-up and Pap smear in 2008, her life changed forever. “After few weeks, the nursing sister called me to inform me that the results indicated I have cervical cancer which was in its very early first stage. Unbelievable as it was, I went into shock, denial and anger, living with cancer for months until I went for an operation in 2009. During this time, a friend introduced me to CANSA and I took part in a CANSA Relay For Life event. The support I received from then onwards from CANSA was overwhelming and I felt so at home.”
She continues by urging all women to go for regular check-ups, to lead healthy and balanced lifestyles and to enjoy life. “For those who are still fighting the disease, just remember that it is always darkest before the dawn” concludes Marogoa.
CANSA has nine Mobile Health Clinics that travel to remote areas throughout South Africa to reach communities who would otherwise not have access to screening. They offer clinical breast examinations, Pap smear screening tests for cervical cancer, as well as other health tests such as cholesterol, blood pressure as well as Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests for men to detect prostate abnormalities. Screening is also available at CANSA Care Centres country-wide (http://www.cansa.org.za/cansa-care-centres-contact-details/).
“We urge all girls to get the HPV vaccination – speak to your local practitioner to find out where this vaccination is available – and for all women to go for regular Pap smears (screening test for the early detection of cervical cancer) at least every three years as from age 25,” Joubert concludes (http://www.cansa.org.za/files/2014/06/Fact-Sheet-Cervical-Cancer-June-20...).
For more info on cervical cancer visit www.cansa.org.za or contact CANSA toll-free 0800226622 or at as email address. Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (http://www.twitter.com/@CANSA) and join CANSA on Facebook: CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa.
(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email . Call 011 616 7662 or cell: 082 459 5230. You can visit www.cansa.org.za or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email: .)
CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R5 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our wide-reaching health programme comprises health and education campaigns, CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma support and organisational management, medical equipment hire as well as a toll-free line support to those affected by cancer. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients plus one hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment. Read more about how CANSA fights cancer in your community: Visit www.cansa.org.za or contact CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email . Follow CANSA on Twitter and join CANSA on Facebook and on Pinterest.