By S. Williams

CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS — This January’s cancer awareness month held under the theme ‘Early Detection Saves Lives’ sees yet another cancer screening opportunity being offered to Nevisians.

On Saturday 28th January from 8 – 11 am, all six clinics on the island will be offering free cervical cancer screening to women. The results which will be given out in 4 – 6 weeks, is essential for further treatment and referrals as cervical cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

The pap smear test to be carried out during the screening is also available throughout the year at health centres around the island and they are conducted free of charge by a nurse.  Between 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. pap smears can be done at the Charlestown Health Centre on Fridays, at the Brown Hill and Gingerland Health Centres on Thursdays, at the Butlers and Combermere Health Centres on Wednesdays and the Cotton Ground Health Centre on Mondays.

The cervical cancer screening is just one of many screening opportunities held in Nevis during the month of January as part of the Ministry of Health efforts to save lives through early detection. Other such screenings included the colon cancer screening carried out on Thursday 26th at the Alexandra Hospital and the prostrate screening on Saturday 21st January at Occasions Conference Centre.

Risk factors for developing cervical cancer includes engaging in unprotected sex, having multiple sexual partners and early sexual activity. Research have also shown that women with multiple births and those who use birth control pills for prolonged period are also at risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer develops slowly and may present little or no symptoms. Disease prevention is an important tenet of Primary health care. As part of the primary health care package, the Ministry of Health in St. Kitts and Nevis have made the pap smear test free and available to the public, provided well trained Nurses to do the tests, laboratory facilities and a pathologist. They have promoted awareness of the disease through the media, information and education material.