Cancer

Updated 15 September 2016

Cervical cancer second most common cancer among SA women

Sponsored: Every year in September South Africa observes Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The aim is to encourage screening for this kind of cancer, against which young girls can be vaccinated.

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Cervical cancer is the cancer that causes the largest number of deaths among women in many developing countries and is the second most common cancer among South African women. 

Only breast cancer is more common and, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa, one in every 42 women in the country will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. 

Early detection

Early detection of cervix cell changes means that treatment can be started before the cervical cancer has caused any symptoms, increasing the likelihood of the treatment being successful. 

Regular Pap smear tests (where cells taken from the cervix are looked at under a microscope) can detect the condition while it is still pre-cancerous.

Read: Pap smear FAQ's

Causes of cervical cancer

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, where it connects to the vagina. Unlike many other cancers, cervical cancer is mostly caused by a virus, i.e. the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted.  Not everyone infected with

HPV gets cervical cancer, though.  Other factors, such as environment or lifestyle choices, can also play a role in whether you get cervical cancer, or not.

Like other cancers, cervical cancer begins when healthy cells turn into abnormal cells and start to grow out of control, forming a mass or tumour. Cancer cells can spread from the cervix to other places/organs in the body.

Symptoms, Risk Factors, Treatment and Prevention



Read more:

Causes of cervical cancer

Preventing cervical cancer

When cervical cancer strikes

References:

gov.za (2106) Official website of the South African Government. [online] Available at: http://www.gov.za/cervical-cancer-awareness-month. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
Denny,L. (2012) Cervical cancer: prevention and treatment. Discovery Medicine. Volume 14: pp125 – 131. Available at: http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Lynette-Denny/2012/08/27/cervical-cancer-prevention-and-treatment/. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
cansa,org. (2015) Official website of the Cancer Association of South Africa. Available at: http://www.cansa.org.za/womens-health/. [online]. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
gov.za (2106) Official website of the South African Government. [online] Available at: http://www.gov.za/cervical-cancer-awareness-month. Accessed on 5 September 2016.  Mayoclinic.com. (2016) Official website of the Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/home/ovc-20210887. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
Mayoclinic.com. (2016) Official website of the Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20210892. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
Mayoclinic.com. (2016) Official website of the Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20210892. Accessed on 5 September 2016.
Mayoclinic.com. (2016) Official website of the Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20210892. Accessed on 5 September 2016.

 

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit cansa.org.za.

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