Cervical cancer is caused by the High-risk human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted. It is one of the main causes of death amongst women in Belize. At today’s health fair, the Belize Family Life Association was on hand to educate the public about the disease. Love news spoke to Sheena Gentle, the Programme Officer at the Belize Family Life Association.
Sheena Gentle – Programme Officer, BFLA: There is a lot of different types of HPV, there is some that causes cancer in the mouth, warts in the genital and also warts in the mouth and then you have the ones that causes Cervical Cancer as well so in terms of prevention the earlier that you can detect cancerous cells the better it is for you and how you do that is either getting a Pap Smear or Via Exam. Now what we do during the Pap smear is that you will go to the clinic and you will use a speculum to open the vaginal canal and they would take a sample of the Cervix, send that to the lab and then you get your results. There is also another procedure which is called the VIA which is Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid and that is using a solution that when you spray it on the cervix it immediately has a reaction if you have any cancerous cells and this is how the Cervix would look if you never had a vaginal birth. This is also a normal cervix however this would be from somebody who has had multiple vaginal birth so it is a little stretch but its normal and still healthy. Now after you do the Via you would have some reactions and it could look different types of ways depending on how far along you have if you have some cancerous cells so if you have no reaction the nurse will let you know that you are okay and you won’t have to come back for another VIA for three years but if you do have a reaction it would look something like this. Now this is an infected Cervix, it has the cancerous cells and also it has some polyps, it has bleeding so if you have reaction like this, the nurse would recommend you do something called Cryotherapy which is generally just freezing the cancerous cells off, taking them off and then after a few months the cervix re grows itself and it comes back to normal.
In 2016, Cancer ranked in the top five causes of death in Belize.