Happy New Year SHAKE Family and Happy World Cancer Day!
It's been a while but know, we have not forgotten you! The SHAKE Africa Team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to create fun new educational content for you. We have so many great things planned for 2021 that we just cannot wait to share with you!
Now you know at The SHAKE Africa Project (SHAKE Africa) we just loveee celebrating international health days and today is one, we hold very close to our hearts - World Cancer Day (WCD). For the third year running, the theme for WCD is 'I am and I will' which speaks of the power of individual action taken now to impact the future. SHAKE Africa is dedicated to campaigning and working towards better cancer outcomes in Africa and with that in mind we are launching our #ServiceYourCervix Campaign.
The SHAKE Africa Project will be holding a competition called Sixty Seconds With SHAKE. We're giving our SHAKE family the opportunity to win ₦50,000 and an internship with The SHAKE Africa Project. To find out more click here.
Cervical cancer is both highly preventable and highly treatable if detected early however it remains the second leading cause of cancer mortality amongst women in Nigeria, with Nigeria ranking tenth worldwide for cervical cancer mortality.
Low-level awareness of HPV HPV (human papillomavirus)
Low HPV vaccination uptake
Low Cervical Screening Uptake
What is the cervical smear test?
A test used to detect abnormal cell changes in your cervix.
What will happen during the procedure?
It’s usually carried out by a nurse or doctor who willl explain to you what the procedure entails and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes there will be someone else there acting as a chaperone. You can also request a chaperone if it will make you feel more comfortable.
The nurse/doctor will then ask you to lie on the bed in the room, with your knees raised and apart.
They will then put some lubricating jelly on a small device called a speculum and insert this in to the vagina. The speculum opens up the vagina to allow the cervix to be seen.
A small soft brush is then turned in a circular motion to collect some cells from the cervix which is then sent off to the lab to be tested for any abnormal cells
Does it hurt?
This is a common fear! The cervical smear isn’t painful for the vast majority of people although some may find the speculum uncomfortable. For a few women, the presence of a speculum may cause their vaginal muscles to tighten. This is a condition called vaginismus and can make the smear painful and/or difficult to complete.
Try and relax as much as possible and take deep breaths. You’re in control of your cervical smear. If you are too uncomfortable or you’re in pain, you can ask the nurse/doctor to stop!
Does it take long?
Nope, not at all. The cervical smear appointment tends to be shorter than your normal doctor's appointments. The procedure itself lasts only a few minutes!
What if I feel too embarrassed?
You’re not alone! Many women feel embarrassed or self-conscious about the cervical smear especiallyy their first one. That being said you have absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about!
The health care professionals carrying out the procedures are highly experienced and have carried out the procedure many times.
You can request a man or a woman depending on your preferences and what will make you feel more comfortable.
You can also take someone you trust along to the appointment with you. A friendly face can help ease your anxiety!
What happens if my results are abnormal?
You'll be happy to know that the vast majority of cervical screening results are normal. Furthermore, an abnormal result, DOES NOT mean you have cervical cancer. In fact, the vast majority of abnormal results are not due to cancerous cells but what we call pre-cancerous cells i.e. they have the potential to develop into cancer. Detecting these cells allow them to be treated before they can develop into cancer hence why cervical screening is so important!
So now you know what to expect from the smear, book your smear test NOW!
Thanks so much for reading!
Lots of love to you all,
From your friends at SHAKE Africa