Preventing cervical cancer

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Cervical cancer vaccine from Shutterstock
Cervical cancer vaccine from Shutterstock
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Tomorrow, on International Day of Action for Women's Health, the Western Cape's Department of Health will focus on the importance of the pap smear test in the prevention of cervical cancer.

Prevalence of cervical cancer in SA
Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in South Africa and affects one out of every 41 women. This type of cancer is curable if detected early by means of the well-known pap smear test. This test is designed to detect abnormal cells or "pre-cancerous lesions".

Pre-cancerous lesions are caused by subtle changes in the neck of the uterus. In some women, the lesions can develop into full-blown cancer within a period of 10 to 20 years. However, if the lesions are removed at an early stage, cancer of the cervix can be prevented.

The Western Cape Department of Health believes that the reproductive health of women, particularly the health of poor women, is not given adequate attention.

New DIY pap smear on the market
Recently, two innovative South African scientists have developed a simple do-it-yourself pap smear kit that can be used in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

The home kit, called Sen-C-Test, is the unique product of two proven methodologies, namely a self-sampling or DIY collection method and a laboratory test to detect high-risk strains of HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer.

How it works
For a mere R30, you can purchase the Sen-C-Test at your local pharmacy. The test kit consists of a test tube with a clear solution. The woman inserts a regular tampon for three to eight hours, a week before the onset of her menstruation cycle, and then removes the tampon and places it in the test tube, which she sends off to a laboratory (details specified on a form inside the DIY test package).

The test has a 96 percent accuracy rate. And the woman will get her results within ten days via either fax, phone, email or a doctor's appointment – whichever means that she specified on a form in the kit. – (Health24)

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