By Atanas Walila, Kakamega
Cervical cancer stands the second dangerous cancer diseases in the country after breast cancer with 13.3 per cent of the 6,778 recorded cancer cases in 2022, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Nakuru led the number of cervical cancer cases with 82 cases followed by Machakos with 74 and Nairobi county with 66 cancer cases and Nairobi counties.
Baringo, Isiolo and Lamu recorded single cases each while Samburu, Turkana and Wajir had no cases at the time of research.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
The research showed that various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.
Causes of cervical cancer.
Experts said that cervical cancer begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do.
According to them, healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. The mutations tell the cells to grow and multiply out of control, and they don’t die.
The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can break off from a tumor to spread (metastasize) elsewhere in the body.
Medical experts says that it is not clear what causes cervical cancer, but it is certain that HPV plays a big role. HPV is very common, and most people with the virus never develop cancer. This means other factors such as your environment or your lifestyle choices also determine whether a person will develop cervical cancer.
Types of cervical cancer
Doctors say that knowing the type of cervical cancer helps in determining treatment modes.
The main types of cervical cancer are:
Squamous cell carcinoma.
This type of cervical cancer begins in the thin, flat cells also known as quamous cells, lining the outer part of the cervix, which projects into the vagina. Most cervical cancers are this type.
This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal. Sometimes, both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. Very rarely, cancer occurs in other cells in the cervix.
Cervical cancer risk factors
Many sexual partners. The greater your number of sexual partners and the greater your partner’s number of sexual partners the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.
Early sexual activity. Having sex at an early age increases your risk of HPV hence higher chances of getting cervical cancer.
Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Having other STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS — increases your risk of HPV.
A weakened immune system. You may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if your immune system is weakened by another health condition.
Smoking. Smoking is associated with squamous cell, smokers risks themselves of acquiring cervical cancer.
Exposure to miscarriage prevention drug. If your mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant in the 1950s, you may have an increased risk of a certain type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
Cervical cancer Prevention
Receiving a vaccination to prevent HPV infection may reduce your risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers.
Have routine Pap tests. Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated in order to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organizations suggest beginning routine Pap tests at age 21 and repeating them every few years.
Practice safe sex all the time. Reduce your risk of cervical cancer by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as using a condom every time you have sex and limiting the number of sexual partners you have.
Avoid smoking to be safe.
Cervical cancer is a consequence of long-term infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). There are various methods of screening for cervical cancer and the choice of the screening test depends on various factors including age of the woman, availability of the test, HIV status among others.
Cervical cancer screening is used to find changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer. Screening includes cervical cytology also called the Pap test or Pap smear, testing for human papillomavirus (HPV), or both. Most women should have cervical cancer screening on a regular basis.
Availability of cervical cancer screening and management services was assessed across all levels of care with availability of VIA/VILLI, cryotherapy and LEEP therapy assessed at the primary level facilities. In addition, availability of cryotherapy, Pap smear and HPV test was assessed in the hospitals.
VIA/VILLI services were available in all hospitals while HPV testing and pap smears was available in less than half of hospitals. Similarly, cryotherapy and LEEP therapy were provided in less than half of sampled hospitals.