19 October 2017

Kenya: At Least 8 Women Die Daily From Cervical Cancer

Photo: Luca Sola/ Medicins Sans Frontiers Doctors Without Borders
Women waiting room to be screened for cervical cancer (file photo).

Nairobi — According to Ministry of Health, between seven to eight women die every day as a result of cervical cancer and it's the third leading cause of deaths in the country after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.

However the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cancer Institute Alfred Karagu said cancer is treatable if screened and detected early.

"Cervical cancer is the leading cancer in the country causing the most number of deaths and this is unfortunate because cervical cancer can be treated if screened and detected early and this is a service that is available for all Kenyans; so I would really like to encourage our women to go for screening as soon as possible," said Karagu.

Karagu says only 14 per cent of women in the country have done cancer screening and called upon all women of reproductive age to go for screening.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, the annual number of cervical cancer cases is 4,802 and annual number of deaths is 2,451.

The biggest cause of cancer is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV); the other causes include smoking, having HIV or reduced immunity, taking birth control pills for a long time and having given birth to three or more children.

As stated by Karagu, signs and symptoms of cervical cancer may go unnoticed. In advanced stages the signs may include bleeding or unusual discharge from private parts.

Rose Chiedo who is a cervical cancer survivor says treating cancer at an advanced stage is very expensive and urged women to go for screening.

"I'm a cancer survivor and I would like to encourage people to go for screening because if cancer is detected early it can be treated as you know prevention is better than cure. The cost of the treatment is also very expensive and the treatment procedures are very long so it's good you go for screening to avoid all these," said Chiedo.

The Ministry of Health is training 2,239 health care workers in screening and 173 in cyrotherapy-one of the treatment options if the cervical cancer is detected early.

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