HomeLocal NewsCervical cancer vaccine registered

Cervical cancer vaccine registered

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A VACCINE to prevent cervical cancer has been registered in Zimbabwe and a pilot project in which a few young women will participate is underway, a local medical specialist has confirmed.

Report by Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

Consultant oncologist Dr Anna Nyakabau said plans were in place to test the vaccine after completion of some procedures.

She said cervical cancer was preventable, but unfortunately efforts to do so were low in Africa.

“At least eight out of 10 patients come when the cancer is advanced. It (cervical cancer) has become the leading killer disease in women,” she said.

“The Pap test is one of the great success stories in early detection of cervical cancer. From age of 25, sexually active women should start having a Pap test every three years.

“Most cases are caused by human papilloma virus. It is preventable and highly curable in its early stages.”

Nyakabau said cervical cancer was the most common among Zimbabwean women and accounted for approximately 30% of female cancers registered among black Zimbabweans.

“There are no warning signs at the initial stages of disease.”

“But as the cancer progresses, symptoms may include unusual vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding between periods, bleeding after menopause, bleeding or pain during sex and lower back pain,” she said.

The dangerous types of human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cancers can stay in the body for years without causing any symptoms.
About 40 types can infect the genital areas and some have high risk for cervical cancer.

“Genital HPV infections usually clear up on their own. If one becomes chronic, this can cause changes in cells of the cervix that may lead to cancer. About 90% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection worldwide.”

She said Zimbabwe had one of the highest cases of cancer deaths in the world.

“Condoms can lower risk of getting HPV, but they do not fully protect against the virus,” she said.

Nyakabau was speaking recently at a meeting held at the Cancer Centre in Harare which was attended by survivors of various cancers and stakeholders in the fight against the disease.

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