Beware of Cervical Cancer

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, March 14, 2014


YOUR columnist is not accustomed to giving stern warnings but this is an occasion of providing a direct, straightforward categorical statement. After all, March is cervical cancer awareness month. However, the bigger reason to sound the alarm is the sexual behaviour of the Filipino youth which has become risky, definitely an understatement.

At the turn of the century, the survey of both government agencies and NGO research studies showed that the median age of the Filipino youth having the first sexual encounter is 21.8 years for males and 22.1 years for the ladies. Another nationwide study conducted in 2002 revealed a disturbing trend; 2 percent of the subjects aged 15-27 years revealed that their first sexual encounter occurred before they turned 13. The figures rose sharply when the researchers looked into those engaged in sex before age 18 where it displayed a high probability of 12 % among the females and 29 % among the males. Just recently, the newest statistics showed a close to 30% of young Filipinos having pre marital sex or having sex for the "fun and adventure as well as thrill of it."

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of women, second only to breast cancer. Unlike breast cancer which has very strong links to genetics, hormonal imbalance and even lipid- cholesterol and triglycerides- disorders, cervical cancer is , undoubtedly caused by a virus. The HPV or human papilloma virus- particularly HPV 16 and HPV 18 account for70% of cancers affecting the cervix, part of woman's reproductive tract that connects the vagina to the uterus or bahay-bata. On the other hand, HPV 6 and HPV 11 are responsible for 90% of genital warts, those ugly-looking cauliflower like firm flesh growths, that may also be found in the peri-anal area and even in the thighs of patients.

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Cervical cancer is highly prevalent among women who have had early sexual contact, women with several lovers and women whose lovers are not circumcised. At this juncture, the author wants to emphasize that it is not being circumcised or not, that predisposes the partner of the male with redundant prepuce. It all boils down to hygiene. AAn uncircumcised husband who takes a bath every day, making sure that the head of the penis is not covered with smegma- that cheesy material that collects between the head and the skin that covers the penis, which is a rich culture medium for tyhe human papilloma virus.

The good news is with more drug companies offering their respective vaccines, the price for the vaccine has come down to reasonable, popular prices. According to the Center for Disease Control, the Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that the vaccine be given routinely when the girls are 11-12 years old. The column ist rememebers clearly that one of the last things President Bush did before handing the presidency to President Barack Obama is to require all incoming high school girls to be vaccinated. Then, quickly, he changed his mind, give it also to the boys. The Advisory also includes the option of giving the vaccine earlier to girls aged 9, and women until they reach their 26th birthday.

Dear mothers, have a good talk with you OB-Gyne if just to ensure the health of your daughters.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 15, 2014.

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