ABOUT 30 percent of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer die within the first year of diagnosis, statistics have revealed.
Clinical Oncologist, Dr Kudzai Makova, says progress has been made in terms of access to screening services and prevention efforts, but challenges remain in areas around treatment and palliative care.
“One of the greatest challenges in Zimbabwe remains in providing uninterrupted treatment of cancer due to frequent breakdown of radiotherapy machines and this has to change,” said Dr Makova.
“Improving access to pain control medicines, such as morphine, will also benefit all cancer patients and not just those with cervical cancer.”
Dr Makova said national statistics show that cervical cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Zimbabwe.
“In the Ministry of Health, we have screening services available and our most important message is for people to be diagnosed early,” he said.
“From the latest statistics, we diagnose about 7 500 cancers per year and what is sad to note is that about 30 percent of patients, who have a cancer diagnosis, die of cancer within the first year of diagnosis.
“That is a very significant statistic and one of the greatest contributors to high cancer mortality is that most patients with cancer are presenting with advanced cancer due to limited cancer awareness so we hope that this conversation will help increase awareness so that more patients are diagnosed early so that we improve the cancer outcomes in Zimbabwe.”
He added that one of the most successful programmes in the Ministry of Health and Child care has been HIV control.
Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable, when detected early, yet it remains the leading cause of deaths among women in Africa.
Nineteen (19) out of 20 countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer are in the African region.
Zimbabwe is among the top five countries with high incidence of cervical cancer, with 61 of every 100 000 women being diagnosed annually.