THE Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) encouraged women to attend cervical cancer screening to detect the disease at an early stage.
The Cancer Association of Namibia’s (CAN) Chief Executive Officer, Rolf Hansen, said cervical cancer screening (CCS) using Pap-smears has been carried out for decades and is still an essential tool for secondary cancer prevention.
“Cervical cancer screening involves testing for pre-cancer and cancer in women who have no symptoms and may feel perfectly healthy”, said Hansen.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted, but penetrative sex is not required for transmission. Skin-to-skin genital contact is also a well-recognized mode of transmission.
According to Hansen the HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Most sexually active women and men will be infected at some point in their lives and some may be repeatedly infected.
HPV infections usually clear up without any intervention within a few months. A small proportion of infections with certain types of HPV (HPV 16 & HPV 18 most commonly) can persist and progress to cervical cancer, especially with recurring infection and suppressed immune system (HIV+ individuals).
The infection with certain HPV types also causes a proportion of cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis and oropharynx, which are preventable using similar primary prevention strategies as those for cervical cancer.
When screening detects pre-cancerous lesions, these can easily be treated, and cancer can be avoided. Screening can also detect cancer at an early stage and treatment has a high potential for cure.
Because pre-cancerous lesions take many years to develop, screening is recommended for every sexually active woman from age 25 and regularly afterwards (frequency depends on the screening test used).
The Cancer Association of Namibia concludes the first phase of community access services for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) testing this week.
Namibian women, aged between 25 and 50, are welcome to visit the CAN Medical Centre at 90 John Meinert Street in Windhoek West this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 09:00 and 12:00.
Hansen said only 100 testing slots remain available at N$50 per patient.