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Articles 2015-11-03T16:48:00+00:00

BASIC FACTS ABOUT CANCER OF THE CERVIX

The cervix is the commonest site for cancer to affect women in Nigeria. It causes untold pain, suffering and death. However, cancer of the cervix begins slowly and takes time (many years!!!) before causing hardship and death. Therefore, early detection and treatment cures the problem.
Most women who die from cervical cancer are in the prime of their life. They may be raising children, caring for their family, and contributing to the social and economic life of their town or village. Their death is both a personal tragedy, and a sad and unnecessary loss to their family and community. Unnecessary, because cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
Q. What is Cancer?
A. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of certain cells in the body, causing tumors or growths. Not all growths are cancer. Those that spread to other parts of the body and can interfere with normal functions are called cancer.
Q. What is Cervical Cancer?
A. It is cancer that begins on the cervix, which is the opening of the womb. Cells on the cervix begin to grow abnormally and sometimes, if they are not treated, they become cancer. However, these early (precancerous) changes can disappear on their own, without causing problems.
Q. What Causes Cervical Cancer?
A. Cervical cancer is caused by infection with a virus called Human Papillomavirus or HPV. Most of the time, HPV infection disappears without treatment; sometimes, however, HPV stays in the cells for years and, in some women, eventually causes cervical cancer. Not much is known about why some women get cervical cancer and others do not.
Q. Can Cervical Cancer be prevented?
A. Yes. Limiting the number of new sexual partners, using condoms, delaying first sexual relations and childbearing, and not smoking tobacco help prevent cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are now available and will probably be the most effective means of prevention. It is recommended for all but most effective for young people before they start to have sexual relations.
The best way to prevent cervical cancer today is through the screening of women for precancer, which can be treated before it becomes cancer.
Q. Who is at Risk of Cervical Cancer?
A. All women who have had sexual intercourse are potentially at risk because they might have been infected with HPV. Cervical cancer is most commonly found in women in their 40s and 50s. The women at risk are those who have never been screened, had sexual intercourse, and children at a young age, have had more than 5 children, have multiple partners or partners who have multiple partners, and smoke tobacco. Being infected with HIV is a risk.

SCREENING
Q. What is a Screening Test?
A. A screening test is a test done on people who are healthy and without symptoms to identify those with a higher chance of getting a particular disease. A cervical cancer screening test can determine if a cervix is normal or not. It can detect early signs of disease before a woman has symptoms, when treatment can prevent the disease from developing.
Q. Who should be screened for Cervical Cancer?
A. Women between the ages of 25 and 65 years should have a screening test to detect early changes. Women who have never had sexual intercourse do not need to be screened.
Q. What exactly is done during Screening?
A. The most common screening test is the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear. The health care provider will do a genital examination to look at the cervix, collect a sample of cells from your cervix, and send it to the laboratory to be examined. Other tests are sometimes used to screen for cervical cancer, such as looking at the cervix after putting vinegar on it.
Q. What if my Test is Negative?
A. If your screening test is negative, it means that you do not have any changes that might develop into cervical cancer. It is important to be screened at regular intervals (every 2-3 years) to make sure that such changes do not develop.
Q. What if my Test is Positive?
A. In most cases a positive test means you have precancer, a condition that might go away on its own or that can be easily treated in an outpatient setting. You might need to have other tests to make sure that what you have is precancer, and not cancer. Sometimes a positive test means you have cancer. In this case, you will be referred to a hospital for treatment.

PRECANCER AND CANCER
Q. What is Precancer?
A. Precancer results when the cervix has been infected with high-risk HPV for some time. It is easily treated. Most precancer goes away on its own, but if it persists and is not treated, it can become cancer.
Q. What are the Signs of Cervical Cancer?
A. Early cervical cancer usually has no signs, which is why screening is so important. Signs of cancer are: vaginal spotting or bleeding after sexual intercourse, between menstruations, or after menopause, and foul-smelling discharge that does not go away even with treatment. If you have any of these signs, you should see a health care provider, because the earlier cancer is found, the better your chance of being cured.
Q. Can Cervical Cancer be treated?
A. Most cervical cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early. In middle-aged women who have never been screened, cancer may be discovered late, when it has already spread beyond the cervix and is more difficult to treat.
Q. Can Cervical Cancer be cured?
A. Yes, cervical cancer is curable, if it is found before it has spread too far. The earlier cancer is found, the better your chance of being cured.
Q. How is Cervical Cancer cured?
A. There are two major ways to treat and cure cervical cancer—by an operation to remove it surgically, or by radiation therapy which kills the cancer cells. Sometimes both methods are used.
Thus advise and encourage all women to go for screening with pap smear or vaccination (available at Every Woman Center; Lane 1, Block 3, Flat 3, Marine Base Housing Estate, Port Harcourt; UPTH; BMH; Private Clinics).

For further information, please contact:
Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
(“Healing with Spirit of a Mother”)
Every Woman’s Center, Lane 1 Block 3, Flat 3,
Marine Base Housing Estate, Port Harcourt.
Publicity MWAN – 08028901833
or discuss with any doctor nearest to you.
BREAST CANCER

What is Breast Self-Examination?
Breast self-examination consists of looking and feeling one’s own breasts for any area of abnormality, such as a lump that is not painful or tender.
Why is Breast Self-Examination Necessary?
It is necessary because breast cancer starts as a small painless breast lump that is often not discovered early. The sufferer does not become aware of its presence until the late stages of the cancer because it is painless. So feeling the breasts is the best way to discover the cancer early before it starts to destroy the rest of the body.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the condition in which breast tissues are destroyed because of the sudden excessive growth of its cells leading to destruction of the surrounding tissues and the spread of the cancer cells mostly through blood stream to other organs, causing further damages and subsequently death.
How is Self-Examination Done?
First, look carefully at the breasts in front of the mirror with the arms down by the sides. then with arms raised above the head. Next, use the flat surface of the fingers of the opposite side including the armpits and the area around the nipples in a circular motion, and in a circular direction, while keeping the other hand firmly pushing downwards at the waist.
Repeat this process while lying down with the opposite arm raised above the head. Then gently use two fingers to squeeze each nipple to check for any discharge from the nipples.
What are the Abnormalities One may find in the Breasts during Breast Self-Examination?
On looking at the breasts in the mirror, check for:
Change in size or shape of the breasts
Drawing in of the Nipple
Depressions on the surface of the breast
Newly visible veins
Rash or Scaling of the skin
On feeling the breasts, look out for:
Lump or thickening within the breast whether tender or not.
On squeezing the nipple watch out for:
Discharge or bleeding
Lump within the nipple
How often should Breast Self-Examination be done?
It is advisable to do breast self-examination every month after a period because the breasts are less lumpy at this time. However, breast self-examination can be done at any other time if discomfort is felt in the breast.
At what age should regular breast self-examination start?
Breast self-examination should start from the age or twenty years.
Is Breast Cancer Common in Nigeria?
It is the commonest Cancer that effects women worldwide, although it is believed to be second to cancer of the cervix (outlet of the womb) in Nigeria. Nonetheless, it is a major public health problem in Nigeria as in other parts of the world.
Who are those Prone to Developing Breast Cancer?
The older the women, the higher the chances of developing breast cancer.
Daughters of a woman who suffered breast cancer have higher chances of developing breast cancer.
Child bearing is known to relatively protect against breast cancer.
Longer period of breast feeding appears to protect against breast cancer
Are there other Tests to Detect Breast Cancer?
Yes. X-Ray examination of the breast, known as mammography, also detects abnormalities in the breasts even before a lump can be felt. However, there are very few of those specialized X-Ray machines in Nigeria.
What are the Chances of a Cure for Breast Cancer?
To date, there is no drug that can completely cure cancer. However, if a breast lump is discovered early to be cancer, before the cancer cells spread to other organs, removing the breast can cure the cancer.
How can you help in this Campaign to Save the Lives of Women from Dying from Breast Cancer?
Please share this information with your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters.
Can a Man Develop Breast Cancer?
YES. Men can also develop breast cancer but it is rare in men.
Is it only Breast Cancer that Causes Lump?
No. Breast lumps may be caused by growths in the breasts that are not cancer. Infection in the breasts also presents as lumps but such lumps are painful and tender.
For further Information, Please Contact:
Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
(“Healing with Spirit of a mother”)
Every Woman’s Centre
Lane 1 Block 3 Flat 3
Marine Base Housing Estate, Port Harcourt,
Publicity MWAN – 08028901833
or discuss with any doctor nearest to you

Published by:
Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
PROSTATE CANCER

WHAT IS PROSTATE GLAND?
The prostate is a small gland about the shape and size of a walnut. It lies below the bladder and surrounds the upper part of the Urethra-a tube that carries urine and semen out through the penis.
The prostate gland produces a thick fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. The prostate gland tends to grow larger as a man gets older and this may restrict the flow of urine. This is a common condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer although causes the same symptoms as prostate cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate?
In many men, prostate cancer grows slowly and may not cause problems, but in some men it grows more quickly. The following may be symptoms of prostate Enlargement
Difficulty or pain in passing urine.
Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine.
Frequent visits to the toilet especially at night.
Starting and stopping while urinating.
Dribbling urine.
A feeling of not having emptied the bladder fully.
When there is blood in the urine, low back ache, pelvic pain, then, cancer is likely.
What causes Prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, but there as some factors that increase ones chances of developing prostate cancer. They include:
Increasing age – the older you get, the greater the risk
Family history – if a close relative had prostate cancer, particularly at a young age, then your risk may be higher.
African ancestry – Prostate cancer is more common in black men than in white or Asian men.
Diet – eating a diet high in animal fat and low in fruits, vegetables and fish may increase risk.
How common is it?
Prostate cancer is the commonest male cancer. It constitutes 11% of all male cancers, most cases seen are in advanced stages, and 64% of patients diagnosed are dead within 2 years.
How can Prostate be prevented?
Earth detection and prompt treatment are the only available cure for prostate cancer.
Who should go for Screening?
Every man above the age of 40 should have regular prostate screening tests.
What happens at Prostatic Screening?
Your Doctor will ask about your symptoms (if any), and do a physical examination to see if the prostate gland is enlarged. An ultrasound scan of the prostate gland will also be done to access the size of the gland. Your Doctor might also suggest a blood test. This will tell the doctor about the level of a protein called PSA (Prostatic Specific Antigen) in your blood stream.
High levels of this protein produced by the prostate can indicate prostate cancer. This can also be positive for other reasons and does not provide a diagnosis of cancer.
If your PSA level is high and prostate gland feels enlarged, further tests may be needed.
For further Information, Please contact:
Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
(‘Healing with the Spirit of a mother”)
Every woman’s Centre Lane 1 Block 3. Flat 3
Marne Base Housing Estate, Port Harcourt.
Publicity MWAN – 08028901833
or discuss with any doctor nearest to you
It is very important for all men above 50 years to have regular prostate cancer screening tests.

Published by:
Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria