Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
Do you know that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women living in less deve-loped re-gions? The World Health Organization said there’s an estimated 445,000 new cases of cervical cancer in 2012 with 84 percent of the new cases worldwide.
In 2012, approximately 270,000 women died from cervical cancer; more than 85% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.
In the Philippines, Assistant Secretary of Health-Mindanao Cluster and Regional Director Dr. Abdullah B. Dumama, Jr. said approximately 12 Filipino women die daily due to Cervical Cancer despite its being a preventable disease through timely screening and vaccination.
Yesterday, the De-partment of Health (DOH) Regional Office 11 in partnership with City Health Office, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS), Merc Sharp and Dohme and other relevant stakeholders conducted a lay forum and mass screening of women through visual inspection using acetic acid for free.
Cervical cancer is caused by sexually acquired infection with certain types of HPV. There are two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions. Conse-quently, vaccines against HPV 16 and 18 have been approved for use in many countries.
Human papillomavirus or HPV is a group of viruses that are extremely common worldwide. There are more than 100 types of HPV, of which at least 13 are cancer-causing (also known as high risk type). HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and most people are infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.
Symptoms of cervical cancer tend to appear only after the cancer has reached an advanced stage and may include irregular, intermens-trual (between periods) or abnormal vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse; back, leg or pelvic pain; fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite; vaginal discomfort or odourous discharge; and a single swollen leg.
Among those at risk include early first sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, tobacco use, and immune suppression like HIV-infected individuals are at higher risk of HPV infection and are infected by a broader range of HPV types.
Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society (ACS) said there’s no way to completely prevent cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk.
ACS said the most common form of cervical cancer starts with pre-cancerous changes and there are ways to stop this disease from developing. The first way is to find and treat pre-cancers before they become true cancers, and the second is to prevent the pre-cancers, it said.
To prevent cervical cancer, follow the following rules or tips:
DO NOT SMOKE. Women who smoke cigarettes or who breathe in secondhand smoke have a higher risk for cervical cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. Quitting smoking may decrease this risk.
GET VACCINATED WITH HPV. If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot. The vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil protect against the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Get it from your medical doctor, not from a pharmacy. It is recommended for children age 11 or 12, but can be given as early as age 9. For girls who have not already gotten the vaccine, it is recommended up to age 26. For boys who have not already gotten the shot, the vaccine is recommended up to age 21.
REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A SEXUALLY TRANS-MITTED INFECTION OR STI. Preventing an STI, including HPV, is easier than treating an infection after it occurs. HPV infection usually doesn’t cause symptoms, so you or your partner may not know that you are infected.
To reduce your risk, you should talk with your sexual partner about STIs before beginning a sexual relationship. In the first place, believing in pre-marital sex with several partners makes you already a good candidate for cervical cancer. Better wait for your God’s Best, and never be in a hurry to meet the right guy. Wait for God’s blessings, or you’ll miss it one day!
Honestly, not having sexual contact since single is the ONLY BEST WAY to prevent exposure to STIs. Sexually transmitted infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) can be spread to or from the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat during sexual activities like oral sex or anal sex.