Cervical Cancer is the second most common type of cancer that afflicts the Filipinas. It is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is transmitted through sexual contact. The risk of acquiring HPV infection and consequently developing cervical cancer increases with having multiple sexual partners, early onset of sexual activity, and non-use of barrier contraceptive methods. Other risk factors include smoking, OCP use, no screening like pap-smear, multiple pregnancies and deliveries, interaction with other sexually transmitted infections, and compromised immune status.
In the recent ManilaMed HealthLine episode with OB-Gynecology-Oncology expert Dr. Carolyn R. Zalameda-Castro titled Cervical Cancer: Detection and Early Prevention, Dr. Castro stated that for every 100 women infected with high-risk types of HPV, approximately 16 will develop cervical cancer.
“Tulad ng virus na nagsasanhi ng ubo’t sipon, ang HPV ay kayang tanggalin sa katawan ng taong malakas ang resistensya o maganda ang immune system. Kapag mahina ang katawan ng tao, nananatili ang virus sa katawan at tumataas ang risko ng pagkakaroon ng cervical cancer.”
Signs and Symptoms
In its natural course, cervical cancer takes 10- 15 years to develop from initial HPV infection. Despite the long window of opportunity for detection, it is still unfortunate that most cases of cervical cancer are detected in the advanced stages.
Cervical cancer is often times asymptomatic. If symptoms are present, most common are bleeding after sexual contact, spotting before menstruation, longer periods of menstruation, watery discharge, pain at lower abdomen which sometimes occurs during sex, menstruation period, and even urination.
Other physical symptoms include unilateral swelling of the leg, passage of urine and or feces through the vagina, and pubic bone pains. These are signs of advanced stages of the disease.
Cervical cancer is a highly preventable disease. Dr. Castro mentioned the following preventive measures:
- Practice safe sex. Single, mutually homogenous sexual relations is key.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system by getting enough exercise and eating a balanced diet.
- Avoid smoking as it increases the risk of having cervical cancer.
- Have regular medical and gyno check-ups.
- Get vaccinated against HPV.
- Have regular Pap smear test for women at least 21 years old for early detection of possible HPV infection or other diseases.
In the Philippines, a Pap smear is recommended yearly for women 21 years old and onwads.
ManilaMed offers preventive procedures as well as various diagnostic treatments, measures, and modalities for patients with cervical cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are offered at the Cancer Care Center (with assistance of PCSO), and surgery is done at the hospital for the removement of cervical cancer.
If you want to see an OB and Gynecology for consultation or treatment, schedule your appointment today and visit ManilaMed’s Center for Women’s Health to make you feel better. For inquiries, visit www.manilamed.com.ph or call 523.81.31-65.