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Cervical cancer screening in Kenya

Cervical cancer screening is the process of finding the precancerous cervical cell changes. Pap smear and HPV tests are some of the techniques used to do cancer screening. It is critical routine to go for daily cervix check-up specially to check for early signs of cancer.

Cervical cancer screening

Velvet Health cervical cancer screening campaigns educate masses to avoid the death rates of cervical cancers. The disease is now becoming a menace in Kenya and beyond. Find out more about what cervical cancer screening is, the diagnosis procedures, risks and the future.

What is cervical cancer screening?

Screening of cancer is vital prevention of cervical cancer as it helps finding the precancerous cervical cell changes. It is easy to treat cancer on the early stages that when it has completely developed over the years. Human papillomavirus test, cervical cytology, and HPV cotest are one of the ways to assess the cell changes.

When to get screened for cervical cancer in Kenya?

Cervical screening procedures are devised by the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Age determines the frequency of cervical cancer tests. The HPV vaccination does not entirely prevent the development of cervical cancer follow the following screening best practices based on ages: –

Age 21-29 years

  • Pap test should be done after every 3 years, once you do one at 21 years old.

Age 30- 65 years

  • HPV test should be done after every 5 years.
  • Pap cotest every 5 years.
  • HPV cotest after every 5 years.

Older than 65 years

  • You need to continue with screening regularly, especially when results are not effective.

Where to get screened for cervical cancer in Kenya?

Get an appointment with a gynecologic specialist or a primary care giver. At Velvet Health, we do all the tests, such as pap smears and more.  

What to expect during a cervical cancer screening test?

During the examination, you are advised by our gynaecologists to lie on your back and bend your knees. Put your feet at the table. The health care provider using a speculum to observe the vagina and using a soft brush to collect sample cells.

Does cervical cancer screening have any risks?

Yes, if you do unnecessary follow-up treatment. It is the reason why following the doctor’s recommendations is important.

Cervical cancer screening in Kenya overview

Below is a guideline to be used in the screening of cervical cancer in the Velvet healthcare. It is for use by the medical staff working in the hospital, but can also be used for public health usage.

History

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer mortality and morbidity in Kenya. It is the second most common malignancy affecting women in Kenya, following breast cancer.

It is also a preventable cancer in that the risk factors and causative agent is known in up to 98% of the cases.

Cervical cancer screening is available in our facility by use of a papanicolau (pap) smear and Human papilloma virus (HPV)testing. The screening via pap smear has a sensitivity of up to 65% and thus 3 consecutive smears are needed for proper confirmation of the status of the cervix.

The scope of the guideline is with cervical cancer especially in terms of prevention and screening. The target population is women, aged from 15 yrs and above.

The screening is targeted at women between the ages of 21 years to 65 years with cytology I.e. pap smear, every 3 years, and every 5 years for those who have cytology and HPV testing.

Screening is not recommended for those under 21 years of age, those above 65 years with prior adequate screening (3 consecutive negative cytologic results) or with absent risk factors for developing cervical cancer and for those who have had total hysterectomy and with no prior precancerous lesion of the cervix.

Screening is also not recommended by use of cytology and HPV testing combination in women less than 30 years of age.

Screening more often than three years confers little benefit and increases treatment costs for transient lesions. Thus, annual screening is not recommended.

Screening can be performed on women older than 65 years of age if they have not had this screening done prior.

For those with HPV positive but cytology negative should have repeat cotesting in 12 months. If at this cotesting, cytology is positive, then the patient is referred for further tests i.e colposcopy to be done by the hospital registrar. If it is negative patient will be followed up with routine pap smear.

Recommended screening status does not change with HPV vaccination.

The guidelines are not for women who are immunocompromised, HIV positive or have a history of cervical cancer.

FAQs about cervical cancer screening

How is a cervical cancer screening done?

A speculum is inserted in the vagina to widen it. The doctor enters a brush to fetch the cell samples around the cervix. Sample is then sent to the lab for test.

At what age should cervical cancer screening be done?

Women should do the test when then enter the age 21 and up to 65.

What are the 5 cervical cancer screening methods?

The cervical screening methods in Kenya include HPV molecular tests, pap smears, pap cotest, and visual inspection with acetic acid.

What is the main screening test for cervical cancer?

The main test is known as pap smear.

The above guidelines are up to date but can be modified as more research goes on into screening.

References

American college of obstetricians and gynecologists.

US Preventive services taskforce

America society of colposcopy and cervical pathology

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