Did you know that…
* Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinas?
* 7 Filipino women die DAILY of cervical cancer?
* 2 out of 3 Filipinas diagnosed with cervical cancer may die within 5 years?
While that may sound like a death sentence, IT ISN’T…..if we know how to harness our power over cervical cancer.
A Quick View of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop and spread in the cervix, the entrance between the vagina and the uterus. Persistent infection, brought about by human papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus, causes cervical cancer. HPV infections come and go. Some clear up spontaneously. However, when the immune system is weak, HPV infections may persist and eventually develop into cervical cancer.
Who are at risk?
HPV is transmitted primarily via sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin genital contact. Those most at risk are young girls who had their first sexual experience at a young age; those who have given birth multiple times; have or have had sexually transmitted diseases; have HIV or has a weakened immune system; a smoker; used oral contraceptives for 5 years or more; and those who rarely or have not yet had any pap smear. The thing about this type of cancer is that it is a silent killer. By the time it manifests, the woman is usually in the late stage of cancer already.
The World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) recommends that young girls get protection through HPV immunization before their first exposure to HPV through sexual contact. For older women, the risk of persistent HPV infection increases with age and is highest when a woman is over 66 years old.
Screening for early detection allows treatment to start much earlier when cervical cancer progression can be arrested. It is also so much less expensive than cancer treatment, which easily runs into hundreds of thousands of pesos at the very least, not to mention its significant impact on one’s permanent health and well-being.
Using your Power over Cervical Cancer
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has always pushed its advocacy to create cervical cancer awareness and it is doing it again in 2016 with its “You Can & You Will” campaign.
Cervical cancer survivors, including the mom of Andi Manzano (a well-known TV host and actress), as well as OB-Gyne doctors, are encouraging Filipinas to wield our power to protect ourselves as well as our dreams through early screening (recommended starting age is 21 years old) to detect cervical abnormalities and to go for regular gynecological checkups and doctor consultations.
The Q&A portion with the doctors was very educational for me. Here are additional, important things to remember, including the myths around cervical cancer.
* You CANNOT get the HPV virus by using public toilets. It is only transmitted via sexual contact or skin-to-skin genital contact.
* Wrong use of sanitary pads and pantyliners DO NOT also cause you to have the HPV virus
* Even boys/men need the cervical cancer vaccine because they can be HPV carriers or get infected by their sexual partners. HPV is associated with penile cancer.
To know more about cervical cancer, visit the Power Over Cervical Cancer Facebook page (www.facebook.com/POCCPh) and the Pangarap Mo, Protektado YouTube page (www.youtube.com/ProteksyonPortal). These sites contain information and short films that convey how to protect one’s self against vaccine-preventable diseases like cervical cancer.