Cervical cancer: Why teenage girls must be vaccinated against HPV – Adibo
There is growing alarm among healthcare professionals around the world about the rising incidence of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers seen in women worldwide.
It occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cervical cancer can often be successfully treated when it is found early. It is usually found at a very early stage through a Pap Test.
Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. “Any female that has attained puberty (from 13 years to 19) can get HPV infection by having sexual contact with someone who has it, says Elochukwu Adibo, a biomedical research scientist and laboratory director of El-Lab Limited, which is a medical diagnostic and research centre in Festac Town, Lagos.
Adibo, whose area of special interest is histopathology, explains the connection between HPV and cervical cancer: “There are many types of HPV virus. Not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms. Most adults have been infected with HPV at some time. An infection may go away on its own. But sometimes, it can cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer.
What usually happens is that the HPV virus causes the release of toxins that affect the cells in the tissue of the cervix. Repeated exposure to HPV infection and increasing presence of the toxins cause change in the genetic material of the cells leading to mutation. Many years after the mutagenic cells begin to divide to form cancerous tissue around the cervix. That is why it is important for women to have regular Pap tests.
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