Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer is caused by chronic infection with one of 14 high-risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPV). Most infected women will clear HR-HPV through natural immunity (usually between 1 - 2 years of acquisition), but a proportion (± 10%) will have infection that persists, resulting in cellular changes that may progress from pre-malignant dysplasia to high grade dysplasia (CIN2, CIN3), and eventually to invasive cervical carcinoma. The time line from exposure to the development of invasive carcinoma in the persistently infected, undetected woman is 10 - 15 years, though this may be shortened by concurrent HIV infection.
Why should I offer Cervical Cancer screening to my female patients?
Sexually transmitted infection with HPV is very common, with most women being exposed to HPV at some point. It is estimated that every year 4,802 Kenyan women are diagnosed with Cervical cancer and 2,451 die from this preventable disease. It is the second most frequent Cancer amongst women and the most frequent in women aged 15 - 44 years. HPV-16 and -18 are responsible for 63.9% of invasive Cervical cancer cases. Approximately 3.2% of women are estimated to be infected with HPV-16 and -18 at any given time. With appropriate screening, cervical cancer can be prevented, by detecting pre-cancerous lesions, or cured, by detecting cancer early and managing appropriately. Cervical cancer is one of the only cancers that can be prevented through appropriate screening with readily available tests and minimally invasive procedures