Esther Zakaria, the Clinical Officer, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, an NGO, says 75 per cent of cancer can be prevented through early detection.
Zakaria said this at the beginning of a two-day free cervical cancer screening and family planning for 250 women in Kaduna on Thursday.
She described screening and treatment of precancerous lesions as the best possible protection against cervical cancer.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the screening is taking place at some selected primary healthcare centres in the state.
The official and Leader of the group said cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in the country, adding that it is targeting zero level reduction to be achieved through screening.
She said: “Cervical cancer occurs commonly in women over the age of 30 and is the second most frequent cancer among women in the country after breast cancer.
“The cancer is caused by the human Papiloma virus and is transmitted through sex and it can cause an infection in the cervix (the neck of the womb); the infection can change the cervix cells into pre-cancer cells.
“Most cells with early pre-cancer changes go back to normal on their own and if detected can be treated, but if they are not found and treated the pre-cancer cells can lead to cancer.’’
She stressed the need for women to go for early screening and detection of cervical cancer.
Zakaria said one of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding, but in some cases there may be no obvious symptoms until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.
“The early stages of cervical cancer may be completely asymptomatic vaginal bleeding, contact bleeding and also moderate pin during sexual intercourse and vaginal discharge.”
The officer in charge of the facility, Rahab Jacob, said the screening was to give community the opportunity to carry out routine medical checks in order to detect cancer early enough and commence treatment.
According to her, the health of an individual is one of the most essential prerequisite for the individual to survive and carry out his or her duties effectively and efficiently.
She emphasised that the cost of the service could be unimaginable if the health of an organisation’s personnel and their families is neglected.
Jacob urged women to take advantage of the facilities provided in order to remain cancer free, noting that the prevalent rate of cancer especially among women is alarming.
She said that the awareness and screening programmes is the first of its kind in the health facility.
According to her, the exercise is aimed at increasing people’s knowledge on cancer risk and prevention, and increasing access to free affordable cancer screening to enable victims have early detection, prompt diagnosis and proper treatment.
A beneficiary of the exercise, Ramatu Andy, commended PPFN for organising the event, describing it as “timely”.
She noted that her pastor last week announced in the church about the cervical screening and encouraged all women to participate.
She added: “I am impressed with the turnout of women.”