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- January 14, 2021 | 2:00 PM
- November 14, 2020 | 3:00 AMKisumu, Kenya
- Can a 15-minute outpatient procedure save a woman’s life from cervical cancer?
January is Cervical Cancer awareness month. The global community is coming together to increase awareness of the burden of this preventable cancer. Cervical cancer is a disease of significant disparity. Of the approximately 570,000 new cases diagnosed yearly worldwide, 85% occurred in low-and middle-income countries, where women lack access to life-saving prevention, including vaccination and screening. Women living with HIV – the majority of whom reside in sub-Saharan Africa – are up to six times more likely to get cervical cancer. This disparity is driven in part by the lack of access to treatment during the pre-cancer stages, when abnormalities in the cervix can be treated and cured. But there is hope. The Ministry of Health in Kenya is heeding the recent World Health Organization call for the global elimination of cervical cancer. Kenya has ramped up efforts to increase screening to help turn the tide of cervical cancer deaths among women, especially among low-income communities. Starting in January of 2021, the Comprehensive Care (HIV) Clinic at Lumumba Hospital in Kisumu County started offering a life-saving procedure to treat women with cervical pre-cancer. The clinic is supported by Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES), a collaboration between the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes the disease. Additionally, regular screening of women can detect early signs of cervical cancer (known as pre-cancerous changes) that can easily be treated and cured, preventing progression to cancer. Screening saves lives, as these pre-cancerous changes are almost always completely treatable. However, women, particularly poor women who lack access to a trained gynecologist, have often gone without this life-saving treatment because it was not available in their local clinic, and referrals to other hospitals are difficult and expensive. In Kenya, there is one doctor for every 16,000 people, a minority of whom are trained gynecologists, and even fewer working in rural areas. One way to remedy this shortage of doctors is to train health care providers who already work in the communities where vulnerable women live. Instead of referring women to inaccessible, faraway hospitals for treatment, the FACES clinic at Lumumba Hospital is now offering Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), a 15-minute outpatient procedure where pre-cancerous cells can be removed by a trained clinical officer. This procedure prevents progression of the changes to cervical cancer, saving a woman’s life. A recent study at FACES showed that LEEP provision by clinical officers safely expands access to this life-saving procedure. The FACES clinic primarily serves HIV-positive women, who are at highest risk of getting cervical cancer. However, all women, regardless of HIV status, can get cervical cancer, and need regular screening. By providing the LEEP procedure to women in their community, FACES is doing its part to address this preventable health disparity. Spread the word amongst all the women in your life. Cervical cancer screening is available in most public facilities in Kenya at little to no cost, and it can save your life! Dr. Chemtai Mungo, OBGYN
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- Cervical Cancer | KCCA
cervical cancer Cervical Cancer Prevention Symptoms Risk Factors Screening Treatment What is cervical cancer? Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the lining of the cervix that results from long-term infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common virus that can be passed between partners during sex. How many women have cervical cancer? In Eastern Africa, cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women. In Kenya, 11% of new cancer cases are cervical cancer cases. However, it is a preventable disease. What are the risk factors? Early initiation of sexual intercourse Having multiple sexual partners Having a sexual partner with multiple sexual partners Co-infection with other sexually transmitted infections, such as Chlamydia trachomatis and herpes simplex virus type 2 Multiparity Immunosuppression due to HIV/AIDS infection Tobacco use How can I prevent getting cervical cancer? Protects against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer HPV vaccines are available for girls starting at age 9! HPV Vaccination Screening helps to find abnormal cervical cells that can become cancerous Get regular screening! What are the symptoms? Abnormal vaginal bleeding Abnormal vaginal discharge Pain during sex Pelvic pain Blood in urine Swelling of legs Trouble urinating Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you have any of these symptoms. What are the screening methods? Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) or Lugols Iodine (VILI) Cervix is observed 1 minute after applying 3-5% acetic acid Service Locations What are some treatment options? Cryotherapy Cryotherapy is used to freeze and remove abnormal pre-cancerous cells from the cervix. The doctor or nurse inserts a speculum to open your vagina, then gently holds a cryoprobe inside for a few minutes. Service Locations Sources: National Cancer Screening Guidelines https://www.health.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/National-Cancer-Screening-Guidelines-2018.pdf Kenya National Cancer Treatment Protocols 2019: https://www.health.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/National-treatment-Protocols-2019.pdf Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi https://hospitals.aku.edu/nairobi/AboutUs/News/Pages/cervical-cancer.aspx#:~:text=According%20to%20WHO%202018%2C%2033,over%20the%20age%20of%2030 . World Health Organization https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/searo/tobacco/trainees-handbook.pdf?sfvrsn=6778145d_2 Globocan 2018 https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/populations/404-kenya-fact-sheets.pdf https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/cancer/cervical-cancer/what-cryotherapy https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/search/v?id=NCI-2019-06774&r=1 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/treating/radiation.html https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/about-your-loop-electrosurgical-excision-procedure