Monday, January 1, 0001

Wouldn’t be caught dead wearing pink and teal together? Well, 1st for Women Insurance Brokers says they’re the colours of savvy women. Those who mix them make a dramatic – and healthy – statement.

According to Robyn Farrell, managing director of 1st for Women Insurance Brokers: “Although the pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness is widely recognised, the teal ribbon for Cervical Cancer Awareness is lesser-known, as is the fact that cervical cancer is on par with breast cancer as a top cause of cancer deaths in South African women.

“But, it doesn’t have to be. Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if caught early. Thinking teal and keeping a firm check on what’s happening ‘down below’ is just as vital to your health and longevity as checking your breasts.”

According to information from the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), cervical cancer is the most common cancer in South African women, with 6 700 new cases diagnosed every year. The disease kills more South African women than any other cancer, accounting for 34% of all cancer-related deaths. About 3 700 women die from cervical cancer annually.

In South Africa, the incidence of cervical cancer is higher than the world average. It is estimated that cervical cancer affects 30 out of every 100 000 South African women each year, compared to a global average of 16 women per 100 000.

Already overtaking breast cancer in incidence, it is estimated that 8676 women will be affected by breast cancer and 9 363 by cervical cancer in 2015.

Regular screening, in the form of pap smears, is pivotal to the prevention of cervical cancer. A pap smear is a simple test that a doctor or healthcare worker does to check for signs of cancer of the cervix. A sample of cells is taken using a swab, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Women should have their first pap smear within three years of becoming sexually active. Certain factors increase the risk of cervical cancer and doctors will consider these when recommending the frequency of screening.

“Although a pap smear is a very simple procedure, a lot of women are intimidated going for the test. But, not going can come at a considerable price, as the facts and figures suggest. We encourage women to check their cervical health status,” says Farrell.

The 1st for Women Insurance Trust, which was established by 1st for Women to assist South African women, recently donated R318 000.00 to The HPV Cervical Cancer Research Fund to help reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and HPV infection.

1st for Women is also supporting CANSA and Right to Care with their cervical cancer and HPV initiatives.

“Turning the tide against cervical cancer hinges on raising awareness, and improving accessibility to, cervical cancer screening,” concludes Farrell.

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