Cervical Cancer talk
Women urged to go for cancer screening
A total of 15 cases of cervical cancer were reported in Bermuda last year, a Department of Health spokeswoman revealed last night.
The news came as the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre asked women to get screened for the disease and reminded parents to make sure their children are vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus, which can cause cervical cancer.
The health department spokeswoman said: “There were 15 reported cases of cervical cancer in Bermuda last year and six reported cases of mouth, throat, oesophagus and nasal cancer related to the HPV virus.”
She added: “Cervical cancer screening by way of a Pap smear is a way to prevent cervical cancer.
“Women should be aware of this and understand the difference between screening for cervical cancer and screening for sexually transmitted infections.”
Azuree Williams, BCHC education co-ordinator, added: “We are really looking at women taking better care of their health because cervical cancer is preventable, based on women getting regular screenings.
She added: “When we are looking at cervical cancers, it is definitely one of the most common cancers.
“Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is why the screenings are encouraged so that women get Pap-tested every three years.”
She also recommended that women get regular Pap and HPV tests at the age of 30 and that parents get their sons and daughters vaccinated against HPV at ages 11 and 12.
The spokeswoman for the Department of Health added that vaccinations are available through doctors’ offices or free at government health centres.
She said: “The vaccine is part of the routine childhood schedule for immunisation. HPV vaccination is important because once full immunity is reached, it can protect against the HPV viruses most likely to cause cervical cancer.”
Because HPV is sexually transmitted, Ms Williams also urged people to use condoms to avoid contracting the virus, which is also linked to vaginal cancer in women and mouth, throat and penis cancers in
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre will highlight the disease and its prevention at a public meeting next week organised with the Ministry of Health as the island marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Ms Williams said cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women but added that there are no accurate figures for Bermuda because reporting is not mandatory.
She added: “We’ve had several survivors. Looking at the death rate, it is highest in black women. “A lot of this is attributed to optimal healthcare. If women who are in lower income families or they don’t have adequate health insurance, they are not getting regularly checked and that’s when you tend to find cervical cancer, a lot of the times it’s advanced and it’s too late.”
She added that all women are at risk, irrespective of race or ethnicity.
Ms Williams said major symptoms, including abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge and pain during sex usually occur when the cancer is advanced.
She added: “If they catch it early, they have a higher survival rate, as is the case with any cancer. “Pap tests are so quick. There may be a little discomfort but it’s over and done with pretty quickly.”
Ms Williams said other preventive measures include regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking and a reduction in alcohol consumption.
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