Cervical cancer is the fourth most diagnosed cancer for women worldwide. It’s also one of the most treatable types of cancer when found early. Because it’s typically a slow-growing cancer, cervical cancer screening tests to detect precancerous lesions combined with early treatment has seen the rate of cervical cancer drop significantly over the last couple of decades.
Unless you live in Zimbabwe. Cervical cancer in Zimbabwe is the most frequently diagnosed cancer for Zimbabwean women. And sadly, it’s often a death sentence – even when it’s detected early. That’s because Zimbabwe has only one hospital in the entire country that can remove precancerous lesions before they become cancerous. For the vast majority of women diagnosed with these lesions, there’s little they can do but hope they don’t grow into full-blown cancer. If they do, there is little hope left.
“We have to prevent the women from getting to the cancerous stage, because our ability to provide good oncology care is quite limited at this time in our communities. We don’t have a lot of oncologists in the public system, so the waiting lists to see an oncologist or to get chemotherapy or radiation are appalling. The longer these women wait, the more the cancer advances and it snowballs from there.”
That’s Dr. Mike Jeans, a physician at Victoria Falls District Hospital in Zimbabwe. He’s also MATTER‘s Medical Director for Projects in the country. “We’re seeing more and more cases of advanced cervical cancer which we picked up at an early stage, but the women just weren’t able to get to the referral center for the procedure to remove the lesions. It’s a procedure that should be done at our hospital. We’re more than capable of doing it, we just don’t have the equipment.”
The simple, outpatient procedure is called LEEP, which stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, and involves cauterizing the precancerous lesions on the cervix. The women are then monitored regularly to ensure the lesions don’t grow back.
“It’s a simple procedure. We’ve got the skills; we’ve got the knowledge; we’ve got the rooms to do it in; we’ve got the personnel; we‘ve got the population that desperately needs it. It’s just a matter of getting the equipment. It’s not that hard to come by and once it’s in place, you’re good to go.”
MATTER believes no woman should die of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe due to limited resources when there’s an easy way to treat it before it becomes a death sentence. That’s why we’re holding a benefit concert on Sunday, Oct. 3rd to raise funds for the equipment that the Victoria Falls Hospital needs to do LEEP procedures and save lives.
Taking place on the beautiful grounds of Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens, the concert will begin at 2 pm and feature the soul-funk styling of The Good, The Bad and The Funky. Add amazing food, outdoor yard games and exciting auction items, and you’ll have an afternoon you don’t want to miss!
For more information and to register for this MATTER Benefit Concert on October 3rd concert, please go here.
Dr. Mike and his wife, Megan, were recently in Minnesota. MATTER President, Quenton Marty, talked with Dr. Mike about the LEEP Project as well as the life-changing healthcare facility being built in the remote area of Binga. Watch the interview below and plan to join us on October 3rd!