Change the world

Campus Health Service

Cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable, yet South African statistics reveal that one in every 42 women will be diagnosed with this disease, the most common form of cancer amongst women!

The good news is that cervical cancer is preventable and curable if detected early.

Causes of cervical cancer:

  • starting sexual activity before the age of 18 years
  • more than one sexual partner in a life time
  • sexually transmitted diseases eg. syphilis, gonorrhea, other offensive vaginal discharges, and especially viral infections eg genital warts (HPV), HIV, genital herpes
  • multiple pregnancies from an early age
  • organ transplant patients, due to immunosuppressant treatment
  • smoking
  • failure to receive regular PAP-smear screening
  • hormonal treatment
  • women born between the years of 1940 to 1970, whose mothers received DES (Diethylstilbestrol) during their pregnancies

If you have TWO OR MORE of the possible causes you may increase your chance for cervical cancer dramatically!

How will you know if you have cervical cancer?

  • early stages NO symptoms
  • abnormal bleeding (between periods, after intercourse, douching, or pelvic exam.
  • longer and heavier periods
  • sudden bleeding after menopause!
  • increased offensive vaginal discharges.

The above symptoms may occur with other health problems, consult your doctor if present.

How can you prevent cervical cancer?

  • one sexual partner for life
  • use barrier method of contraception eg. condoms
  • do not smoke
  • take vitamin A supplements, (N B. do not exceed prescribed dose)
  • earlier detection and treatment of precancerous tissue by having annual PAP-SMEARS!

What is a PAP smear?

It is a simple painless test:

  • A speculum is inserted into vagina
  • the cervix is exposed a sample of endocervical cells are scraped utilizing a wooden spatula
  • the cells are transferred onto a glass slide
  • analyzed under microscope in laboratory

When must I have a PAP smear done?

  • Annually from the age of 18 years or with the start of sexual activity
  • Ideally between day 10 - 20 of your menstrual cycle (first day of menses is day one)
  • Please avoid douching, spermicidal foams, creams, or vaginal medicines two days prior to PAP SMEAR, as they may wash away or obscure any abnormal cells,

Where will a pap smear be done?

  • All family planning patients can have a pap smear at their local clinic
  • Private patients can visit their private GP or a gynaecologist
  • At the cancer association (a minimal fee will be charged)
  • Various private nurse practitioners in the city are available and may charge medical aid fees

What results could you expect?

  • No abnormalities detected in cervical cells
  • Mild, moderate and severe infections present
  • Pre-cancerous changes present divided into two groups:
    • Low-grade lesions: - CIN 1 = Mild dysplasia

    • High-grade lesion: - CIN 2 = Moderate dysplasia - CIN 3 = Severe dysplasia

  • Carcinoma in situ invasive cervical cancer

Management of PAP-result

  • Antibiotic for infections - complete all treatment!
  • Low-grade lesions will be treated with antibiotics and repeat pap smear.
  • High grade lesions - refered to gynaecologist, possible biopsy, cautery, laser therapy, surgery.
  • Carcinoma - refered to gynaecologist, surgery, anti-neoplastic treatment.

Treatment will depend on location, size of tumor, stage of disease, age of woman, her general health and other factors.

Please do not delay to have an annual check-up. - It could be life saving!!!