The last quarter of a century has seen many advances in the management of cancer in Zimbabwe.
There has been strides made in the training of health personnel such as radiation oncologists, radiotherapy radiographers, medical physicists and oncology nurses; the expansion of and upgrade of equipment in existing Government radiotherapy centres (Parirenyatwa and Mpilo).
Recently, there has been an introduction of an arm to compliment work the Government is doing by the establishment of a private radiation oncology centre for the provision of comprehensive cancer management at Oncocare Oncology Campus in Harare.
Why do we need to look at all these?
As a nation, we are upping our effort to manage cancer.
All these efforts on training, acquisition of radiotherapy equipment and availability of other specialised medical treatment modalities, for example chemotherapy and immuno-therapy, are being made to ease the debilitating effects of cancer.
As a female health practitioner, one feels compelled to talk on the cancer that affects the most number of women in our nation, cancer of the cervix, that is the opening of the womb.
The improvement on the quality and numbers of highly skilled cancer treating personnel, together with the provision of advanced radiotherapy equipment and specialised anti-cancer drugs, need to go hand-in-hand with improved communication on how the deserving people seeking cancer treatment can utilise the available resources timeously.
Hence this article
For most people, a diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence, hence many are of the opinion that it would be better not to know their cancer status, but it should not be the case.
Cancer is generally very treatable, and the chances of cure are better if the disease is diagnosed early.
Regular pap smears and VIAC checks for every sexually active woman is encouraged to have at least once every two years, or once every year if HIV positive.
For those who have heeded the call to cervical cancer screening and were found affected, their disease has been controlled effectively, irrespective of their HIV status.
It has been observed that HIV negative women rarely see their doctors nor visit their local clinics or healthcare centres for routine checks and therefore usually present in later stages of any cancer disease.
It is a healthy habit to always take a healthy walk to your healthcare providers or cancer screening centres.
Every woman should know symptoms that are never to be ignored. They can actually be indicative of cervical cancer and so who ever sees these signs is encouraged to visit their nearest doctor, clinic or Oncocare Cancer Centre, so that they actually confirm what would be causing the symptoms.
Painful pelvic pain
Change in menstrual flow
Change in bladder control
Change in body weight
Change in body energy
Advancements, together with knowledge, works for the effective provision of curative treatments for the women affected with cancer of the cervix.
Felistus Mawisire is a practitioner, educator and administrator radiotherapy and nuclear medicine radiographer and can be contacted on (04) 7760010 — 08677004556 — 0776 222 080
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