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Women urged to do Pap smear tests regularly

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa), cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among South African women.

Kwa-Thema – As some parts of the world commemorate Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, cancer survivor Ouma Rose Khanye (42) is urging women to do regular Pap smear check-ups.
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa), cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among South African women.
However, should it be detected in the early stages it can be successfully treated.
Khanye was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with the disease.
“Three months prior to finding out I began experiencing excruciating back pains, at first I thought perhaps I was working too much.

Also read: Women urged to get tested for breast cancer

“Cancer never crossed my mind as we do not have any history of cancer in the family.
“However, this pain would not go away, even after I sought medical attention,” she said.
Khanye described how her life changed drastically afterwards.
“On my return to the doctor, he suggested I should see a gynaecologist.
“That’s when I discovered that I had abnormal cells.
“I was so shocked and scared, I thought I was going to die,” she said.
Some major symptoms of the cancer include abnormal bleeding between periods, heavier and longer periods, vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding or pain during intercourse and increased urinary frequency.
According to Cansa, cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and spreads through skin to skin contact, body fluids and sexual intercourse.
Failure to use protection during sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), multiple sexual partners, early sexual debut, and use of oral contraceptives increases the risk.
Furthermore, being overweight, inactive, consuming alcohol, poor dietary habits, smoking and exposure to chemicals also increases the risk.

Also read: Cancer survivors ready to help

“Agreeing to the Pap smear is what truly saved my life, it is uncomfortable, but painless.
“Prevention is better than cure and it is important for us to take charge of our lives, even small things like changing your diet, taking a walk and having regular check-ups.
“Do not wait for things to get worse, the moment you feel like something isn’t right go to your nearest health facility,” said Khanye.
Furthermore, she urged families to support family members who are diagnosed with cancer.
“What got me through my horrifying experience was the love and support of my family, as well as the support and motivation I got from other survivors who would come to cancer facilities to speak.
“They encouraged my fighting spirit,” she said.

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