SCREENING AND PREVENTION OF CERTAIN CANCERS:
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst South African Woman. It is a cancer of the cervix causing abnormal growth in cells that have the ability to invade and spread to other parts of the body. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus/womb that plays an essential role during childbirth.
In the early stages of the disease there are no symptoms, but later on woman may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is responsible for more than 90% of these cases. 5% of all cancers are estimated to be caused by HPV.
WHAT IS THE HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS?
It is a hardy, easily transmitted virus causing a variety of diseases in both females and males. It is not limited to cervical cancer but can also cause vaginal and anal cancer, cancer of the male reproductive parts, genital warts and also cancers of the head and neck.
WHO IS AT RISK?
All females and males are at risk, from reproductive age onwards.
There may be have an increased risk due to other factors such as smoking, having several intimate partners, initiation of sexual activity at a young age, and in individuals with a weakened immune system.
HOW CAN CERVICAL CANCER AND HPV BE DETECTED?
Regular pap smears and screening may ensure early detection of abnormal cells and lesions of the cervix. Speak to your doctor or professional nurse if you experience any abnormal bleeding orany of the other symptoms mentioned.
HOW CAN CERVICAL CANCER AND HPV RELATED CANCERS BE PREVENTED?
Go for regular screenings with your doctor.
Making healthy lifestyle choices: Limit your risk factors, e.g. stop smoking, and limit your amount of partners.
Always use protection during intimacy.
Young women should delay initiation of sexual activities.
Vaccination is the most effective way of prevention. No prescription is required for healthy individuals to be vaccinated.
WHO CAN BE VACCINATED AGAINST THE HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS?
Males and females from 9 years onwards.
WHERE CAN I GO FOR VACCINATIONS?
The Department of Health is very serious in the prevention of cervical cancer in young woman. Grade 4 learners at public schools, whose parents and caregivers have given consent forms, may receive their vaccinations at school.
If your daughter is attending a private school you may visit a private healthcare facility to have her vaccinated.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
IS MY CHILD AT RISK FOR HPV?
Your child is not at risk now, but the risk increases as they get older.
WHY SHOULD BOYS BE VACCINATED?
There are more than 100 types of HPV. Some of them are low risk for cancer, but they cause more than 90% of genital warts. By vaccinating the boys they will protect the girls and strengthen the general immunity of the population.
IS THE HPV VACCINATION SAFE?
The Human Papilloma Vaccines are safe, effective and offer lifelong protection against cancers caused by HPV. Each vaccine has undergone years of extensive safety testing. Any problems with the vaccines are reported to healthcare providers and safety are monitored.
If your child has any serious health condition or problems with their immunity, please consult your doctor prior to vaccination.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE VACCINE?
Like any vaccine or medicine, the HPV vaccine may cause side effects, like headache, swelling on the site of injection, etc. Serious side effects are not normally associated with the HPV vaccine. Remember, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any potential risk of side effects. Please consult your health professional with any concerns.
INTERESTING POINTS ABOUT HPV:
- 8 out of 10 adults will come in contact with HPV. There is no way to know who has been in contact of the virus based on history of relationships or activities.
- It may only take one encounter to be infected by the HPV.
- Many adults do not remain with their partners due to infidelity, or death/ separation of a spouse which may put you at risk.
- HPV can survive undetected on the skin.
BEING INFORMED IS THE FIRST STEP IN PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR, PRIVATE HEALTH PROFESSIONAL OR
AT M-KEMS WOMAN’S HEALTH CLINIC, WE ARE ABLE TO ASSIST YOU WITH PAP SMEARS, HPV VACCINATION, HIV TESTING AND CONTRACEPTIVE HEALTH SERVICES.