Cervical cancer is one of the leading killers of women in the country, while lung cancer is a leading killer among men, according to Cansa. Picture: Picasa.
Cervical cancer is one of the leading killers of women in the country, while lung cancer is a leading killer among men, according to Cansa. Picture: Picasa.

Cervical cancer among leading killers of SA women, while men face lung cancer

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Feb 27, 2020

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Cape Town - Among cancer types, cervical cancer is one of the leading killers of women in the country, while lung cancer is a leading killer among men, according to the Cancer Association of SA (Cansa).

Health specialist Professor Michael Herbst said high mortality among cervical cancer patients nationally could be attributed to a number of factors.

“The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Most people are infected with HPV when they become sexually active, and most people clear the virus without problems.”

He said there were over 100 types of HPV and not all of them were linked to cancer.

“The HPV types or strains that are most frequently associated with cervical cancer are HPV16 and HPV18. Starting to have sex at an earlier age or having multiple sexual partners puts a person at higher risk of being infected with high-risk HPV types.”

Women with immune system deficiency are also at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

He added that other contributing factors included: “Women who have genital herpes have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer; women who smoke are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer; and the risk of getting cervical cancer increases from late teens to mid-thirties.”

Herbst said women past this age group remained at risk and need to have regular cervical cancer screenings, which included a pap test and/or an HPV test.

Cansa said that smoking was one of the leading contributing factors to preventable lung cancer.

Factors attributed to lung cancer included smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

It should be noted that people who do not smoke can also develop lung cancer.

Other factors attributed to lung cancer include exposure to radon gas, asbestos and other carcinogens.

“Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil (plenty of areas in SA), rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes.

“Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer, such as arsenic, chromium and nickel, can also increase one’s risk of developing lung cancer, especially if one is a smoker.”

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Cape Argus

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