Mwanza — Cases of cervical cancer are increasing at an alarming rate in the region, the latest statistics show.
The statistics released by a non-governmental organisation, Tanzania Youth Alliance (Tayoa), yesterday, indicate that there is a steady increase in reported cases of the disease.
In February 2014, over 10,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in Mwanza while last month, cases stood at 11,354, according to the Tayoa deputy director, Ms Elizabeth Ndakidemia.
Ms Ndakidemia said 59,871 women in the region underwent screening in 2014, and more than 10,000 of them were diagnosed with the disease.
The disease, often caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, can be prevented by a vaccine for girls, and can be successfully treated if diagnosed early, according to her.
“Screening for cervical cancer is part of a special programme launched two years ago by Tanzania Youth Alliance, but women in Mwanza are not making use of these opportunities. Many cases of cancer are presented late, which raises treatment costs,” she said.
She attributed the rising number of cervical cancer cases to various factors, including myths and misconception about the disease, treatment costs.
She said that cervical cancer is 99 per cent preventable and prevention is necessary for the reduction and control of cancer burden in Mwanza and the country as a whole.
She urged women to go for regular screening for early detection and prompt treatment.
“Cervical cancer has no particular symptoms but women should look out for signs such as pains around the cervix, painful intercourse, foul smelly discharge, weight loss and weakness,” she said.
“Many patients die due to lack of access to healthcare and high cost of cancer treatment,” she said.
Ms Ndakidemia said, for more than two years, the organisation has been waging a campaign a campaigpain against the disease.
The organisation has also been advocating gender in various regions across the country, including Shinyanga, Simiyu and Geita, according to her.
She challenged women to rise and take up leadership roles to achieve gender equality.
She said this would bring many Tanzanian women on board.
She called on civil society groups and other human rights stakeholders to initiate supportive policies for women.
She named Mwanza and Simiyu regions as among places where many women die of cervical cancer.
She said they have conducted numerous programmes in Ilemela, Nyamagana, Misungwi, Misasi, Meatu and Buzuruga districts in the Lake Zone to enligthen women on the importance of undergoing screening.