GHANA – The Volta River Authority (VRA) Hospital has launched a cervical cancer screening unit to provide screening to the general public in the territory and beyond.

The new cancer unit is located in Aboadze, Shama District in Ghana’s western region will also serve as a cervical cancer education center.

The initiative is part of the hospital’s projects in cervical cancer awareness month targeted at encouraging more people to get screened for the condition.

The unit will enable healthcare workers at the hospital to provide more details on risk factors, preventive strategies and any other applicable information about the disease to benefactors.

Cervical cancer cases on the rise

Historically, cervical cancer plagued women for a long time. In Ghana, it is estimated that 2,797 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,699 die from the disease annually.

In many cervical cancer cases, there are no early stage signs and symptoms. The cancer develops in the cells lining a woman’s cervix and is almost always linked to infection with high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact.

Mrs. Cynthia Acromond, the VRA Team Lead, asserted that cervical cancer is preeminent among women between the ages of 35 to 44 with the estimated age of diagnosis being 50 years as it rarely manifests in ladies younger than twenty years.

She stated that over 90 percent of cervical cancer cases were reported in low to middle income countries including Ghana.

“More than 3000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ghana, out of which more than 2000 die annually. This is regrettable because cervical cancer, unlike many other cancers can easily be prevented and treated if detected early,” emphasized Mrs. Acromond.

Preventing cervical cancer

According to Mrs. Acromond, most cervical cancer conditions can be avoided with effective primary HPV vaccination and secondary prevention strategies like screening for as well as treating precancerous lesions.

If an HPV test determines that a woman is at high risk for cervical cancer, additional screening, like a pap smear, and a colposcopy (visual examination of cervix) are recommended.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women 26 years and above should get screened for high-risk HPV at least once every 5 years.

Having been launched during the Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the new unit will hopefully enhance cancer screening and help reverse the rising number of cervical cancer related deaths.

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