Is There A Correlation Between Cervical Cancer and FGM?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. According to medical documentation, various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancersCervical cancer can usually be cured, if it is caught and treated in the early stages.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina, which is the birth canal.  Long-lasting infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) account for almost all cases of cervical cancer.  Having a pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms.

Although studies continue to be conducted, medical research studies show that there very well could be a correlation between cervical cancer and female genital mutilation.  Some medical personnel report that it is difficult to perform pat tests on women who have undergone the infibulation type (cutting & stitching) of FGM.  Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death for middle-aged women in developing countries, yet the disease is almost completely preventable if precancerous lesions are identified and treated in a timely manner.  And not being able to have pap tests done on them could put the survivors of FGM at high risk of developing cancer of the cervix.

One hundred and fifty women between the ages of 25 and 50 were invited to participate in a cervical cancer screening project in Africa, and 100 women attended the screening clinic, which is a response rate of about sixty-seven percent.   About half of the women that participated in the screening were around the age of 35.  Thirty-six percent of the women had no education and only thirty-three percent of them were employed. As high as sixty-four percent of the participating women had undergone female genital mutilation. Sixty percent had given birth more than once, while sixty-two percent had had incisions between the anus and vulva during childbirth; twelve percent of the women appeared to have had lacerations in that area.

The result of the study shows that episiotomy, cervical laceration, and genital mutilation are considered major types of iatrogenic trauma.  The study found that trauma to the cervix is a risk factor for cervical cancer, and points to the importance of safe delivery facilities.  It was strongly noted that the abandonment of female genital mutilation can have a great effect in decreasing the chances of cervical cancer in women in developing countries.