Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer. Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the main cancer risk factors worldwide. Chronic infections from hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and some types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are leading risk factors for cancer in countries like Malawi. Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV, is a leading cause of cancer death among women in Malawi.

Msyamboza et al (1912) reported a total of 18,946 new cases of cancer registered in 81 of the 84 main health facilities in Malawi during the period 1st January 2007 to 31st August 2010. Of the 10.541 new cases among females registered during the period under review 45.4% were cancer of the cervix.

Current health promotion emphasis:

  • Screening for cancers, leading a healthy and active life style and avoiding risk factors through active life with exercise
  • Observe weight or reduce weight
  • Observe good dietary habits
  • Quit smoking and regulate alcohol consumption
  • Going for check up or screening for cancers.