The Volta River Authority (VRA) Hospital at Aboadze in the Shama District of the Western Region has now developed a Cervical Cancer Screening Center capable of rendering all the screening methods with a well-trained Specialist Clinician for that purpose.
The Center will also provide cervical cancer education and free screening to the public.
The initiative formed part of the Hospital’s cervical cancer awareness month projects aimed at encouraging more people to get screened for the disease.
Dr Charles Ahenful, Medical Superintendent of VRA Hospital said cervical cancer is mainly caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is transmitted sexually while HPV was the most common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).
According to him, about 80 per cent of women will have an HPV infection at some time in their lives but most will clear the virus without any treatment in that the body is capable of clearing the HPV infection on its own within a short period but when the infection persists then it can result in warts, pre-cancer disease of the cervix and cancer of the cervix.
He explained that it is the persistence of HPV infection that increases the risk of cervical cancer since the virus can take over 20 to 30 years to effect the necessary changes that will manifest as cancer, the main reason why screening to detect the changes was vital in preventing the disease.
Dr Ahenful mentioned key risk factors of HPV infection as early coitarche (having sex at an early age), multiple sexual partners (past and present), partner with multiple sexual partners and having unprotected sex.
On prevention strategies, he advised women to have HPV vaccination and adopt safe sex practices.
Touching on the screening methods for pre-cancer disease (early stage of cancer) of the cervix, he mentioned the Pap Test (Pap smear) and the Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) tests and said the Pap test or Screening programme is initiated from age 25 and repeated three times yearly until 50 years, then changed to five times yearly.
“Don’t ignore your cervix, give it some screen time. Being healthy includes protecting what you can’t see – your cervix. Book for an appointment this week”, he implored.
The month of January is acknowledged worldwide as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month with this year’s theme as “CERVICAL CANCER – Get Screened! Get Vaccinated!”