By: Sola Ogundipe and Chioma Obinna
11 September 2010
Nigeria: In recent times, statistics available have shown that in Nigeria, cervical cancer accounts for 15 per cent of female cancers as compared to just about 3.6 percent in the developed countries. Shockingly, less than 0.1 per cent of Nigerian women have ever had cervical cancer screening in their lifetime and less than 1 per cent is aware of the existence of this silent killer. Consequently, cervical cancer kills a woman every hour in the country. Although 100 percent preventable, the cancer kills more women aged 24 to 35 years old women in developing countries than any other cancer in other parts of the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects a 25 per cent increase over the next decade in the absence of widespread interventions. This is a sharp contrast to what obtains in countries like Britain which have national screening programmes. There, deaths from cervical cancer have reduced by 75 per cent and reducing by further 7 percent annually.
Unfortunately, according to WHO estimates, Nigeria has a population of 40.43 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Current estimates indicate that every year 14,550 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 9659 die from the disease.
Worse still, Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria, and the 2nd most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. About 23.7 per cent of women in the general population are estimated to harbour cervical HPV infection at a given time and percentage of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPV s 16 or 18.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive organs and various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, playa role in causing most cases of cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, a woman’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. Thanks largely to Pap test screening, the death rate from cervical cancer has decreased greatly over the last 50 years.