Cervical cancer is rapidly becoming one of the deadliest forms of cancers.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are half a million new cases of cervical cancer each year and 250,000 of them lead to mortality. It is also the second most common cancer in women worldwide, including the Philippines, where an estimated 6,000 Filipino women get diagnosed every year. Sadly, more than half of these cases die within five years.
Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It connects the vagina to the upper part of the uterus.
Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms but advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal, such as bleeding after sex. All women are at risk of getting cervical cancer, especially those over 30 years old.
While genetics still play a major role in all types of cancers, WHO says other factors contribute to women having cervical cancer. For instance, cigarette smoking is consistently linked with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Women who have had a greater number of full-term pregnancies or have used oral contraceptive pills for a long period of time also have higher risk of having cervical cancer.
Other possible causes of cervical cancer also include those who have had multiple sexual partners, who have had sexual partners (regular or casual) who themselves had several sexual partners, and those who had their first sexual intercourse at a very early age, possibly 15 or 16 years old.
But in almost all cervical cancer cases (99%), Human Papillomavirus (HPV) appears to be the main cause. HPV a very common viral infection of the reproductive tract that is sexually-transmitted.
Fortunately, cervical cancer is avoidable and if detected early, curable.
Here are some prevention tips by leading health care provider PhilCare:
- Get vaccinated against HPV. It is given in a series of three shots;
- See a doctor regularly for a Pap Smear;
- One-partner sexual relationship between partners should be observed;
- A delay on the first sexual intercourse;
- Use condom
- Stop smoking