Cervical cancer and screening; knowledge and attitude of St. Dominic Hospital Staff in the Eastern egion of Ghana.
Cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in Ghana and knowledge about its cause, risk factors, prevention, symptoms and treatment is essential in the fight to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality among women in the country. Cancers are developed, not acquired thus cannot be transmitted to other persons. It is one or some of the individual’s own body cells that transform, divide rapidly and become hostile to other sorounding tissues, organs and sometimes the entire human system.
A research conducted by Ghana Health Service indicate that an estimated 3038 women are diagnosed annually of cervical cancer and 2006 women die from the disease every year. Daily Graphic, 2013. Cervical cancer like all other cancers develops from a single cell that defies the laws of cellular division and begins to abnormally replicate and produce cells that differ in structure and function of the parent cells in the tissue. It takes many years for an individual to begin to have symptoms suggestive of disease in the affected part.
Unlike breast cancer, another leading cancer among women which women can self examine their breasts for abnormal lumps as an early diagnostic measure, it takes the services of special health professionals and an extended procedure to examine woman’s cervix for abnormal growth or cancer.
The Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) infection, early sexual debut, multiple sexual partners, multiparity, low social economic status, are the major risk factors to the development of cervical cancer. A lot of studies have identified the Human Papilloma Virus infection as the principal cause of Cervical cancer development, a virus which is sexually transmitted. Women who are sexually active or has had sex before are likely to be exposed the HPV.
Knowledge of risk factors, early detection of symptoms and undergoing screening is the way forward for the prevention of advanced cervical cancer among Women who are sexually active. Papanicolaou smear (Pap smear) and visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid wash (VIA) are the screening options available with the latter being newly introduced, piloted and getting adopted by the Ministry of Health, Ghana because it is simpler and faster and result is readily available after the procedure. Both screening options requires a speculum to be inserted into the vagina for the cervical lining to be visualized and then processed for abnormality.
Cervical cancer is curable if detected early. Cryotherapy, a procedure where an iced carbon dioxide is used to kill the cancer cells has been widely used to treat early cervical cancers and has yielded tremendous results. If cervical cancer is not detected early and becomes advanced, its spreads to affect the other organs in the pelvis including the womb, bladder, urethra, rectum, etc. it is very painful, ‘disgraceful’ and offensive as urine and faeces may be discharging continually through the vagina. Such women are often nursed to peaceful death.
Statement of problem
As already pointed out, cervical cancer ranks the highest in the cancer morbidity and mortality among Ghanaian women. The yearly over 2000 deaths recorded in women as a result of Cervical cancer, a preventable and treatable disease is unacceptable in a developing country that needs to build its human resource for development.
Knowledge about cervical cancer and screening programs is necessary and needs to be aggressively pursued to arrest and turn-around the high cervical cancer deaths among Ghanaian women. Health workers are change agents, they belong to Churches, clubs and other organizations. Their knowledge, awareness and attitude towards cervical cancer and screening is crucial and likely to correlate with their uptake of available screening programs...