Women like Glander Mhlongo (48),
misinformed about cervical cancer, believe only women living with HIV can contract
cervical cancer and therefore risk ignoring the early signs and warnings.
Early last year Mhlongo started getting
sick and developed the early signs of cervical cancer. She experienced pain,
was urinating more frequently and did not know what was wrong.
Abnormalities can be treated
“Instead of going to the clinic or doctor
for a check-up, I spoke to my friends and ended up making a foolish decision to
do nothing. And that led to me having my womb removed. Instead of being checked
by a doctor in time, I bought over the counter medicines to treat myself after
deciding that I just had menopause. But I carried on getting sicker,” she said.
Mhlongo was really ill by the time she went
to her local clinic where she was sent to hospital for further tests which
included a Pap smear test. It was then that she was diagnosed with cervical
Nurse Maria Khoza said a Pap smear test is
an important part of a woman’s routine healthcare. It is done to find any abnormalities
that may lead to cancer of the cervix. When detected, these abnormalities can
be treated before the cancer develops. Most cancers of the cervix can be
prevented if women have Pap smear tests regularly. Also, as with many types of
cancer, cancer of the cervix is more likely to be treated successfully if it is
According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors
for cervical cancer include: having many sexual partners; early sexual
activity; other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea,
syphilis and HIV/Aids; a weak immune system and smoking.
Part of routine healthcare
A Pap smear test can be done in a doctor’s
consulting room, a clinic or a hospital. The doctor or nurse will put a small
wooden spatula (flat blade) into the vagina and scrape off some cells from the
cervix. It is not painful. These cells are then sent to the laboratory for
Pap smear tests can be requested at any
clinic or hospital.
Because Mhlongo took a long time to seek health
professional help, the cancer had already spread and she had to have a
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the
type of the cancer and how far it has spread. It also depends on the age of the
woman, and if she still wants to have children.
“It’s not true that only HIV positive women
can get cervical cancer. My advice to
all women is that they must immediately seek professional help when they start
getting sick or noticing the symptoms of cervical cancer. A Pap smear test
should be all women’s routine healthcare,” said Khoza. – Health-e News.
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