Cervical Cancer Death On The Rise

Madam Eduful speaking with the media after the event

Deaths due to undiagnosed and untreated cervical cancer cases are likely to increase to about 25 percent in the next ten years if steps are not taken to address the late presentation of the disease to health facilities.

Currently, Ghana records more than 3,000 cervical cancer cases annually with more than half of those diagnosed not surviving, due to late presentation.

Dr Kwaku Asah-Opoku, consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at the KBTH Reproductive Health Centre, said, “3052 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1556 die from the disease annually meaning that every five hours, a woman dies from cervical cancer in Ghana.”

Dr Asah-Opoku was speaking at the official launch of the cervical cancer awareness campaign themed: ‘Reducing the Burden: Knowing and Doing’.

The month-long activity was to increase stakeholders’ awareness on cervical cancer and to sensitise the public on the disease while making medical care available for women at affordable prices.

Touching on the need for heightened cervical cancer awareness which affects the mouth of the womb, Dr Asah-Opoku explained that the disease accounts for 20 to 25 percent of all new cancers among women in Ghana.

“By 2025, there will be approximately 5,007 new cases of cervical cancer and 3,361 deaths due to cervical cancer annually in Ghana,” he stated.

Dr Asah-Opoku further observed that the incidence of cervical cancer in Ghana is four times that of US and mortality 10 times that of US.

“The cumulative risk of Ghanaian women dying from cervical cancer is nearly three times the global cumulative risk (3.3% vs. 0.9%, respectively),” he added.

Rose Eduful, Principal Nursing Officer, Korle-Bu Reproductive Health Centre, indicated that the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer is acquired through skin to skin contact with someone who has the virus during sexual intercourse.

She said once infected the virus can stay in the host for about 10 to 15 years before symptoms starts to show.

“Symptoms include offensive discharge from the vagina, blood flow after normal menstrual period, during or after sexual intercourse and women in their menopausal age who bleed, prolonged back pains, loss of weight among others,” Madam Eduful added.

She said women who experience any of the above mentioned symptoms should visit the health centre for further medical examination.

Madam Eduful hinted that the cost of screening for cervical cancer has been reduced due to the campaign to allow more women to come to the centre for screening.

“We have reduced the price from GH¢150 to GH¢60 because of the awareness campaign at the Korle-Bu Reproductive Health Centre for screening and for early treatment,” she said.

Madam Eduful also stated that after three years of sexual exposure, every woman should have a cervical cancer test while teenagers from nine to 14 years who have not initiated sex should be given the vaccine to prevent them from getting the HPV infection.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri