A global health advocate on cervical cancer awareness has proposed early screening for detection of the disease as part of efforts to control the spread of the disease in the country.
Delivering a talk organized by the Rotary Club of Accra Airport City, Dr Caryn Agyemang Prempeh said cervical cancer had been identified as a deadly disease in Ghana, with a mortality rate of about 67 percent.
She said statistics indicate that the disease killed more than 2000 women annually in Ghana, with almost 3000 new cases recorded annually among women in their early 60’s.
Dr. Prempeh, who is the founder of CERVIVA Foundation, indicated that even though the disease affected both men and women, girls who began sexual activity before age 16 or within a year of starting their menstrual period were also at high risk of developing cervical cancer; hence, the need for early screening among sexually active people.
“In men, the disease usually appeared at the penis and the scrotum, as well as the anus, and very rare growth can be found in the mouth or at the throat,” Dr. Prempeh said.
Giving the alarming rate of new cases, she said Ghana could adopt a strategy to control and decrease the spread of cervical cancer through the provision of free mass screening at private and government hospitals.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer caused by a virus known as Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
It is contracted through multiple sexual intercourse, smoking, birth control pills, family history of cervical cancer and it is formed in the tissues of a cervix.
Cervical cancer is commonly identified with symptoms as abnormal vagina bleeding, offensive vagina discharge, pelvic pain, pain during urination, frequent bloody urine, bleeding between regular menstrual periods and abnormal bowel habit.
Globally, cervical cancer is said to be responsible for 12 percent of cancer deaths with about 288,000 women losing their lives annually even though the disease is preventable.
“Girls who begin sexual activity before age 16 or within a year of starting their menstrual periods are at high risk of developing cervical cancer,” she said.
The global health advocate explained that early detection of the disease prevented its spread at the local and global level.
According to her, it had become necessary for young women who were sexually active or between the ages of 18 and 64 to be screened using the ‘Pap Smear’ and other methods as part of preventative measures.
The “Pap Smear” method is a scientific test kit used to detect cancer or abnormal cells that may lead to cancer. It provides a way to examine cells collected from the cervix at the lower and narrow end of the uterus.
Treatment of cervical cancer, according to Dr. Prempeh, depended largely on the stage of the disease. Only 80 to 90 percent of women with stage I cancer, and 50 to 60 percent of those with stage II of the cancer have a lifespan of five years after diagnosis.
She urged women to eat foods such as oranges, grapefruit, peaches, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, watermelon and tomato sauces that contain vitamins C and A to keep the tissues healthy in order not to get the disease.
She also advised the youth who were not ready to have babies to abstain from sex and protect themselves by using condoms.