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Students warned of cervical cancer risk

Students warned  of cervical cancer risk


Friday, April 18, saw the climax of the “Operation Save our Sisters Campaign”, with the final in a series of lectures being presented to the students of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College Heritage Club.{{more}}

Sister Naomi Prince, Family Planning Coordinator, in her presentation, sensitized students on a number of issues related to cervical cancer. Prince said that cervical cancer is a major cause of death among women in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Statistics from the Family Planning Unit show an increase in the number of women dying from the disease. In the period from 2000 to 2005, 35 women died from the disease. The Family Planning Coordinator emphasised to the students that cervical cancer could be prevented, once an individual has her regular pap smear. “One death from cervical cancer is one too many” she said.

Prince told students that they could be at risk for cervical cancer “if you start sex at an early age (16 years or younger), if you have multiple sex partners or if your partner has multiple sex partners. She continued by saying that women who have Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as HPV, Gonorrhea and Syphillis, and who smoke are at high risk of having cervical cancer.

“The pap smear is the only procedure that can detect early changes in the cervix,” Prince explained. She reassured the students that once the procedure is conducted properly, it is reliable and will not be painful, if the person is relaxed. The test, she explained, is “best done two weeks after your period”.

The experienced nurse stressed to the students that all women who are sexually active or have been should get a pap smear done. She said that cells from the cervix are scraped off and placed on a slide. The slide is then sent to the lab for examination under a microscope. Prince stated a woman should have a pap smear done every year.

Prince told the students ‘You, your mother, aunt, sister or friend do not have to die from cervical cancer. It can be prevented if diagnosed early”.

The cervix, which is the lower part of the womb, is also known as the neck of the womb. It is 2 inches in length and allows menstrual fluid to flow from the uterus to the vagina.

The “Operation Save our Sisters” campaign was spearheaded by Searchlight’s Senior Reporter Hawkins Nanton in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Communication and Analysis Planning Course of the Media and Communication degree programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. (VM)