AT least 5% of the estimated 880 women screened for cervical cancer in Mashonaland West province between April and July this year were found positive, a senior medical officer said last week.
REPORT BY BY NUNURAI JENA
Takura Kanonge, who administers the cancer screening programme at Chinhoyi Hospital, said HIV infection and indulging into sexual intercourse at an early age were some of the factors that increased chances of cervical cancers.
“Most of the cases were treated at the hospital [Chinhoyi] while a few were referred to specialists,” said Kanonge.
Multiple sexual partners and smoking in women can also increase the risk, he said.
Kanonge is administering the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Cervicography (VIAC) prohramme with three nurses in Mashonaland West province under the Zimbabwe Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme.
VIAC is a faster and more efficient method of testing for cervical cancer which involves taking pictures of the cervix. Diagnosis is instant and treatment is also prescribed immediately.
Cervical cancer is a disease that occurs at the mouth of the womb, and is caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is mainly sexually transmitted.
Cervical cancer accounts for 32% of all cancers among women.
An estimated three million women, mainly in Zimbabwe’s rural areas, are expected to be screened and treated in the next three years.
Kanonge said the programme had been embraced by women from all walks of life, which raised hope of a reduction of deaths caused by cervical cancer.
“All women educated and uneducated embraced the programme. Women are generally health and death conscious regardless of their level of education,” said Kanonge.
Those who are HIV-positive are recommended to be screened at least once a year, while those who tested negative should be screened after every two years.
Women who spoke to Standardcommunity last week said they voluntarily got screened because the programme was done free of charge.
Private health centres and doctors charge between US$300 and US$500 for cervical cancer screening.
Wadzanai Marume from Chi-konohono high-density suburb in Chinhoyi said she had decided to get screened because not all men were faithful.
“Because of the unfaithfulness of men, I got screened to make sure that I know my status. Most man are unfaithful, including my husband, otherwise I will realise that I have cervical cancer when it has spread throughout the body,” said Marume.
Statistics indicate that worldwide, about 500 000 women develop the disease annually and about 75% of this population is said to be from developing countries, while 300 000 die from the disease annually.
This is mainly because the countries lack resources to implement routine screening and treating, health experts said.
However, if detected early, cervical cancer can be easily treated.
The programme is carried out in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)