Importance of early detection and treatment of cervical cancer

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Published: 14 Dec 2011
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Dr Chioma Asuzu - University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Dr Chioma Asuzu discusses the need for Nigerian men to encourage their wives to be screened for cervical cancer. Awareness of the dangers of cervical cancer and the ease with which it can be cured is poor and as a result, screening levels are very low.


Dr Asuzu has been awarded a BIG CAT (Beginning Investigators Grant for Catalytic Research) grant to fund research working to establish why patients visit traditional healers rather than doctors. Researchers have been working in collaboration with healers to increase early screening and detection of cervical cancer. 

AORTIC 2011, Cairo, Egypt 30 November–2 December 2011


Importance of early detection and treatment of cervical cancer


Dr Chioma Asuzu – University of Ibadan, Nigeria


What I have been talking about in this conference, I made a presentation on the knowledge attitude of husbands towards allowing their wives to go for cancer screening. That was within the free oral abstraction presentation, it was an oral presentation. We’re trying to find out the knowledge and attitude and practices of husbands towards allowing their wives to go for cancer screening because in Nigeria husbands have a lot to do in encouraging their wives to do that and we thought we needed to look at it.


We found out that the husband’s knowledge towards cancer of the cervix is not that it’s good, it’s poor, and their practices are not also encouraging and so there is a need to plan a husband-specific educational programme. Not just for the women, for the husband, that will encourage them to know about cancer of the cervix and to encourage their wives to go for different tests that are preventative in nature because cancer of the cervix is one cancer that can be healed and cured completely.


The second big one is the BIG CATs presentation where we looked at… this was a pilot study of patients and their traditional healers, a potential way of reducing delay in cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this study that was presented, it was presented yesterday, an oral presentation, we tried to find out why is it that cancer patients go to the traditional healers. Why do they go there and what is causing their delay? So we did that and then also we also had a focus group discussion. We identified those who have gone there for the first time and those who have gone there the second, after the first time, since they came to the hospital, those who have also gone there and those among the patients who have gone there, who are willing to take us to see the traditional healers. Eventually we were able to see only five traditional healers and we entered into useful discussions with them. We had a focus group discussion, it’s where you have the traditional healer seated and we asked them with our focus group guide, we asked them questions - whether they knew about cancer, what are their methods of healing patients and whether they want to collaborate with the orthodox healers so that the patients’ delay can be reduced. So that the patients, when they get the patients, the patient can quickly come to the hospital for screening, for diagnosis and for treatment. And now we are going to continue, we have not finished the study. It’s a preliminary report that was made at this AORTIC conference and so the study is still continuing. So we want to enter into collaboration, as the traditional healers want to collaborate, we want to enter into collaboration with them by now trying to find out when they meet. They are willing, they’ve told us before we came to this, that when they meet they meet at the local level, they meet at the state level, they have a national association. So with that we hope to collaborate with them, find out how we could reduce delay, how we can do screening for their people and I hope, it’s promising, something very good which would be very, very useful. So that the patients, they can quickly come for screening and in cancer early screening and detection is very, very vital towards its prognosis.


We did that, what it is, and we had a stated objective, we have prognosis and the method is what I actually was trying to tell you that we had a questionnaire, we had our instrument which was validated, and then this study took place in the radiotherapy department. That’s where it took place, that’s where we collated data from the patients and then identified those who want to take us to see their traditional healers and also those who… some, not all of them, wanted to take us to see the traditional healers. Some wanted to take, some did not want to take us. Some have not made up their minds as to whether they are going to take us or not and for those who have taken us, what I am giving you is their result. And so that outcome is making us happy because there is a way to collaborate and they are ready to collaborate and we hope that with that collaboration it’s going to increase the screening and maybe we will be able to come for screening. That is a good sign.