Just Us: What do you know about cervical cancer?

The host of “Just Us” on Asaase Radio, Naa Ashorkor, shares top five tips from her guests on how to reduce the risk of cervical cancer

Here’s what I know: Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour of the cervix. A slow growing disease that rarely causes symptoms in its early stages – silent but deadly – caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Cervical cancer is not only the third most common cancer amongst women across the world, but the second most common cancer amongst women in Ghana. As a result of the worrying statistic, I talked to my girls, Dr Ella Amoako of Yemaachi Biotech, Dr Nita Asamoa – Manu Gyimah (Specialist Obstetrician – Gynaecologist) and Midwife Akua Oduraa Nuamah of Elimaas Health about cervical cancer on Just US on Asaase Radio.

Here are their top tips for reducing the risk of cervical cancer, especially for young women.


Pap smears are screening tests which enable doctors to detect abnormalities on your cervix and take action before cervical cancer develops.

Primary HPV tests are tests that check specifically for high-risk types of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer.

“In Ghana, you’re not required to get a pap test until age 45 but younger women can request for it. However, the WHO recommends that women get their first pap test after age 26,” Dr Asamoa-Manu Gyimah said.

Women should have an HPV test or an HPV test plus a Pap smear every five years from the age of 26 to 65, so call your healthcare provider or local hospital and schedule that checkup!


Studies have shown that having multiple sexual partners significantly increases your risk of contracting HPV, and the risk of cervical cancer. And if you’re sexually active, use a condom every time you have sex because unprotected sex leaves you at a risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

“While condoms help to lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, including cervical cancer, be aware that HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom, so condoms may not fully protect against HPV. That’s why it’s essential to get the HPV vaccine in addition to using condoms,” Midwife Oduraa Nuamah added.


If your HPV test is positive or if your Pap smear shows evidence of abnormalities, your healthcare provider may recommend further testing, such as a colpocospy exam, or at least more frequent follow up. Sometimes treatments to remove the abnormal cells will be needed. For those who have been treated for significant dysplasia, screening will be recommended no more than every three years for at least 25 years.


Among women who are infected with HPV, those who either smoke cigarettes or breathe in secondhand smoke have an increased risk of cervical cancer. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the duration. Essentially, smoking cigarettes doubles the risk of cervical cancer.


Vaccines are available that can help protect children and young adults against certain HPV infections. These vaccines protect against infection with the HPV types most commonly linked to cancer, as well as some types that can cause anal and genital warts.

These vaccines only work to prevent HPV infection − they will not treat an infection that is already there, which is why, to be most effective, the HPV vaccines should be given before a person becomes exposed to HPV, such as through sexual activity.

In addition to preventing cervical cancer, some HPV vaccines are also approved to help prevent other types of cancers and anal and genital warts.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to make that screening and/or vaccination appointment!

Naa Ashorkor

“Just Us” is an all-female talk show discussing any and everything that girls talk about in everyday life. Join Naa Ashorkor and her guests every Tuesday at 7pm on Asaase Radio 99.5 FM for “Just Us”.

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
99.5 in Accra, 90.7 in Ho, 98.5 in Kumasi, 99.7 in Tamale, 89.5 in Tarkwa, 100.3 in Cape Coast and 106.9 in Walewale
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