Cervical Cancer: Know Your Risk, Get Tested Today

For many people, January is no more than the start of a new year; an opportunity to begin again while hoping for the best. For women in Nigeria and all over the world, it’s a stark reminder of a silent threat: cervical cancer. January is dedicated to raising awareness about this preventable disease that claims the lives of countless women, mothers, daughters, and sisters. 

Understanding Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a disease of the cervix, the entrance to the uterus. It is often caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus spread through sexual contact. Left unchecked, Some strands of this virus can mutate and cause abnormal cell growth in the cervix. This can continue for years without presenting any symptoms.

Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer. In Nigeria, it is the second most common cancer and cause of cancer-related deaths among women. 

According to Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, Founder of Breast Without Spot Foundation, cervical cancer kills between 23 and 28 women daily in Nigeria. This isn’t just another statistic. These are mothers, sisters, daughters – faces lost to a disease that could have been prevented.

Early Detection Through Cervical Cancer Screening



The key to defeating this disease lies in early detection. By identifying precancerous changes before they progress, we can arrest the growth of abnormal cells and effectively prevent cancer. This is why regular cervical cancer screening is crucial. 

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the ASCCP, and the Society of  Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), screening should begin at age 21 regardless of HPV vaccination. These bodies recommend three key ways to screen for cervical cancer;

  1. The HPV test: This test is also known as the HPV DNA test.  The HPV test checks the cells of the cervix for high-risk HPV strains in the cervix. It is quick, painless, and highly accurate and can identify precancerous changes in a cell. It is also minimally invasive.
  2. The Pap test: Also called a Pap smear or cervical cytology. This test collects cervical cells so they can be checked for changes caused by HPV that may—if left untreated—turn into cervical cancer. It can find precancerous cells and cervical cancer cells. A Pap test also sometimes finds conditions that are not cancer, such as infection or inflammation in the cervix.
  3. The HPV/Pap cotest: This test combines the HPV test and Pap test to check for both high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes.

The eventual choice of screening approach by your healthcare practitioner will depend on your risk factors, age, sexual history, and previous test results.

Don’t Wait, Get Tested Today

Cervical cancer awareness isn’t just a slogan, it’s a call to a lifetime of vigilance and informed action. This January, make a promise to yourself, your loved ones, and your future: get tested. It’s a simple, painless test that could save your life.

Remember, by knowing your risk and taking control of your health, you can turn the tide against this preventable disease. Visit Healthtracka to get tested for cervical cancer today.

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