General Cancer Questions

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in any part of the body. Any living cell that is growing can become cancerous. Hence cancer can affect any part of the body, from head to toe, can affect male and female, adult and young. This uncontrollable cell growth leads to the various symptoms of cancer.

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the mouth of the womb of a woman (cervix). The cervix is the opening of the womb (uterus). It connects the vagina (birth canal) to the uterus. Cervical cancer usually starts with changes to the cells on the cervix, this change is called dysplasia. Cervical cancer usually takes years to develop from the dysplasia to cancer. If these changes are found (through screening) and treated, cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical cancer, like every other cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become deadly if not diagnosed early and treated.

Each year, about 13,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer. About 4,000 people die from it every year.

In the early stages of cervical cancer there are often no symptoms. Some of the symptoms of later stage cervical cancer can include:

* Vaginal bleeding: Vaginal bleeding due to cervical cancer usually follows intercourse or examination otherwise called post-coital bleeding. But vaginal bleeding becomes spontaneous and profuse as the disease advances.

*Vaginal discharge: Vaginal discharge due to cervical cancer is usually indistinguishable from other numerous non-malignant causes of vaginal discharge at the onset of the disease. But as the disease progresses, the vaginal discharge becomes more profuse with characteristic odor.

* Pain: Pain is a late aspect in spectrum of cervical cancer presentation like every other cancer. It is very unlikely to have pelvic pain, lower abdominal or back pain as the only presentation in cervical cancer. Therefore women complaining of these pains in absence of other symptoms such mentioned above are not likely to have cervical cancer.

*leakage of Urine: Urinary or Faecal fistulae are also late presentation in the spectrum of cervical cancer signs and symptoms. They could be as a result of the disease and they could also be as a result of complication of the treatment of the disease.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider. These symptoms may be caused by something else, but the only way to know for sure is to see your health care provider for a complete evaluation.

Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Not everyone with HPV infection will develop cervical cancer. Having HPV infection is a trigger cause but not sufficient to cause cervical cancer. There are more than 200 kinds of HPV. Most of them aren’t harmful and go away on their own. But at least a dozen types of HPV can last and sometimes lead to cancer. Two in particular (types 16 and 18) lead to the majority of cervical cancer cases. These are called high-risk HPV. Having HPV infection doesn’t automatically mean you will have cervical cancer. It only means you are at risk of having cervical cancer. That is why catching it early is so important to prevent progression to cancer.

The biggest risk factor for cervical cancer is having persistent infection with the high-risk types of HPV. We don’t know why some people develop long-term HPV infections, precancerous cell changes, or cancer. Besides HPV, there are other things that increase your cervical cancer risk such as:

* Having the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV). It causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection, both men and women can have HPV.
HPV often goes away on its own, but if it does not, it could cause cervical cancer in women. Many women will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives, but few will get cervical cancer.

* Having HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off infections (immunosuppressed state).

* Smoking: Women who smoke are about two times more likely to get cervical cancer, compared to women who do not smoke. Research shows cigarettes contain substances that may damage the cells of the cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer. Smoking also weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off HPV infections.

Any woman with cervix can have cervical cancer, therefore best to get screened and receive the HPV vaccination if within the age bracket for its use.

Cervical Cancer is preventable through simple basic steps. There is lots of information out there stating various unconfirmed preventive measures. Here are 3 basic steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer

1. Get vaccinated with HPV vaccine: The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer. It is recommended for girls between the ages of 9-14years. But there are suggestions that it can be used outside of this age group with limited benefit.

2. Get Screened: Screening can help prevent Cervical cancer by detected the abnormal cells that can develop into cancer if not treated. It is the adequate treatment and follow-up that actually prevents cervical cancer from developing. Visit your health care provider for cervical cancer screening or contact us( Link to contact form) if you need further information on how/where to get screened

3. Make Healthy Choices such as: Not smoking cigarettes or if you do, quit smoking. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits are general good health measures that can also prevent cancer.

An abnormal screening test result means that there are abnormal cell changes on your cervix that can develop into cancer if not treated. This doesn’t mean that you have cervical cancer. You may need further tests or treatment including. Depending on the severity, you may be required to repeat the screening test between 3 months to 1 year, referred for colposcopic evaluation, have a cervical biopsy done or have some form of treatment.

End Cervical Cancer Naija

End Cervical Cancer Naija is a Non-Governmental , Non-Profit organization with overarching goal of harnessing the opportunities of the “WHO global strategy” (Global Strategy to accelerate elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem) to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in Nigeria.

We have an open door policy at ECCN. We are open and receptive to individuals, groups or ideas that will contribute to reduction in the burden of cervical cancer in Nigeria. You may wish to contribute your services at any of the strategic objectives of the organization by being a volunteer

ECCN is an advocacy group advocating for implementation of relevant policies that will improve cervical cancer prevention and control in Nigeria. We do not directly screen, treat nor provide HPV vaccination. We however, collaborate with numerous organizations conducting such services and provide support for organizations in hard to reach communities to conduct screening and treatment for cervical cancer. You may wish to visit the websites of partnering organizations for more information on their cervical cancer screening programs.

YES! ECCN has an open membership policy to all stakeholders in cervical cancer prevention and control space in Nigeria. There are 3 membership categories for ECCN; honorary members, committed members and volunteers. To be a member is as simple as having a passion for cervical cancer prevention and completing a 5minutes membership request form. See the constitution of the ECCN for benefits of being a member.