Prince Elochukwu Adibo is a biomedical scientist and the CEO of El-Lab Medical Diagnostic and Research Centre, Festac, Lagos. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with him on all women need to know about cervical cancer.
A lot has been written about cervical cancer. Please, what exactly is cervical cancer?
In general, cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. Cervical cancer is one of the commonest cancers.Cancers are named with the body parts it affects, for instance, cervical cancer tells us the origin is from the cervix, cervix being part of the female reproductive system.
It is just like there is prostate cancer whose origin is the prostate, a male genital urinary organ. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control. Normally, cells are like building blocks, when you want to build a house, you use blocks, cells come together and form tissues, tissues come together to form different organs, group of organs can form a system, the respiratory system, digestive system, reproductive system.
When systems come together, they form the whole body. Usually, when human cells go through normal natural processes of cell growth, they divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When the cells grow old or become damaged, they die off and new ones replace them.
The development of cells, growth of tissues leads to general body development, but when these cells take up the process of divisions and they don’t stop and they continue to go uncontrollably, that becomes cancer. When this happens in the uterus, it becomes cervical cancer. The cervix is the opening to the uterus, neck of the womb of every woman. Sometimes, some cancer can be successfully treated if discovered early.
Is breast cancer not more common in women than cervical cancer?
We don’t have a lot of statistics in Nigeria but there are a few population based cancer registries that are part of National Cancer Registry Programme: Abuja and Ibadan registry. Studies done up to 2009- 2010 still put breast cancer ahead of cervical cancer. The observed differences in incidence rates of breast, cervical and Prostate cancer between Ibadan and Abuja were not statistically significant. More breast cancer cases may have been reported, it does not necessarily mean that the incidence is more but we are talking about recorded
cases. So many people suffer from these diseases, especially cervical cancer but they wouldn’t want to relate or disclose to medical experts probably due to ignorance or desire to maintain privacy considering the part of the body involved hence so many cases are not identified and subsequently not reported. The worrisome thing is that age of this disease diagnosis in women from the cancer registry records is between is 49.1 to 45.4 years.
A cancer survivor once told me cancer can be treated naturally by eating seeds found in some fruits?
As trained and proficient medical experts we speak in real terms and I am speaking as a medical laboratory Scientist which makes me base all statements from evidence based findings. We never say anything without
research evidence to back it hence I cannot corroborate the claim .Every word that comes from a trained scientist must have proof.
However it is a known fact that certain factors aggravate cancer. Anything that would reduce the accumulation of free radicals in the body should keep one safer from cancer. If those fruits by pharmacology and related analysis by approved centres are found to contain antioxidants which may have positive effect on free radicals it could be useful information in the management of cancer. The pharmaceutical experts and oncologists should be able to give more definitive answer to this. What is important is proper monitoring and evaluation of the disease condition. The reason why many of these disease management plans fail is due to poor multi faceted disciplinary approach which may be from poor detection, late detection, insufficient technology and expertise to diagnose, monitor
and treat, etc. One person cannot start and finish the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of cancer, there are different specialists that should handle different aspects of it in order to give a better outcome. I would not want to discredit what that person told you but I would like to base my judgement on statistics that are proven.
What are the warning signs women should look out?
Signs are quite many. I would start by saying if a woman has stopped seeing regular menstrual periods and she encounters unexplainable bleeding when she is already in her menopause, she should suspect this
and see her doctor immediately.
When there is bleeding from the vagina outside menstrual circle periods , bleeding between menstrual periods, bleeding after sex and bleeding after menopause, such a person should approach a qualified medical doctor to do a basic assessment, which should be followed by diagnosis in the medical laboratory. When the diagnosis is made, other follow up management steps can follow which would involve various experts in the medical team. The good thing is that cervical cancer is a staged illness.
There are pre-cancerous stages which is why we advise women to go for screening because SCREENING SAVES LIVES. The recommended screening test is PAP SMEAR for different age groups especially for female between 21 and 65 years. There is also a more advanced liquid based cytology technology as well as simple VIA tests done among groups of women, churches, mosques and some corporate group screening
exercises. Where certain changes that are abnormal are seen, such candidate would have to go for further investigation, evaluation or procedure. There can also be pain in the lower abdomen, unusual vaginal
discharge etc. All these are signs that something may be wrong and hence proper medical help must be sort from qualified and licensed medical practitioners.
What age would you advise women to be on the watch?
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test detects DNAs from 14 types of HPV – a sexually transmitted virus that includes types 16 and 18 which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. So, when a woman gets to a sexually active
or child bearing age, she should be screened as recommended by the medical expert. Those who are free are women above menopause, maybe about 65 years who have had previous Negative PAP Smear tests . There are vaccinations for HPVs. Even children in secondary school from around 13-14 years can take the vaccine, the younger the age, the stronger the immunity status and the more the advantage to protect such person from cervical cancer .We therefore advocate that people should do the pap smear tests and vaccinate against HPVs.
Tell us about yourself sir?
My name is Prince Elochukwu Adibo, I am a biomedical scientist and the Laboratory Director/CEO of EL-LAB Medical Diagnostic and Research Centre, Festac Town, Lagos (An ISO 15189:2012 Accredited Medical
Laboratory). We focus on medical diagnosis of all types of major and minor ailments to give accurate and acceptable results of international standard and to ensure we are adding our bit to the Nigerian health care delivery system doing this with a culture of consistency , care and excellence.
What does I.S.O mean?
ISO Means: International Organisation for Standardization. They develop and publish international standards. Accreditation is the procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that an organisation Is competent to carry out specific tasks. Therefore, an accredited medical laboratory (ISO
15189:2012) can be defined as a medical testing facility that has been found and deemed competent to analyse specimen in other to generate quality diagnostic results used in patient management according to international standards.
How old is El -Lab?
We are about 19years now. We started operation as a medical laboratory in 1998, it was a humble beginning but with a clear focus, vision and mission. We have gradually but steadily transformed to the world class
facility you are seeing today. We are not yet where we are headed, but it would remain a steady and progressive measurable growth to the right direction.
- Shade Wesley-Metibogun