Women having sex at early age prone to cervical cancer: DOH

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


YOUNG girls who have sex in their teens are at high risk of cervical cancer, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH 7 revealed that cervical cancer is the second leading type of cancer among women, next to breast cancer, with half of the patients aged 35 to 55 years old.

An estimated 7,277 new cases and 3,087 deaths due to cervical cancer are noted every year, as stated in the DOH advisory.

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“Cervical cancer continues to be a major global health problem, especially in developing countries such as Philippines, ranking second among all cancers affecting females, next to breast cancer,” said Dr. Pherdes Galbo of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).

With DOH 7 declaring the month of May as Cervical Cancer Awareness month, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of VSMMC and the Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecology-Cebu Chapter joins the celebration of “Scarlet May” to promote cervical cancer prevention in the community.

The activities aim to increase awareness and to educate women about the disease.

Preventable

“We are hoping to reach all the women and teach them that cervical cancer is preventable,” said Dr. Berlinda Pañares, also of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of VSMMC, during the press conference yesterday at the Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center Conference Room.

Cervical cancer is strongly linked to sexual activity and is most probably caused by the transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Risk factors include having multiple sexual partners, early initiation to sexual intercourse at the age of 15 or 16, history of sexually transmitted diseases, smoking,
absence of Pap smear screenings, use of oral contraceptive pills, and HPV infection.

“A woman’s first Pap smear should be done three years after the first vaginal intercourse,” said Dr. Pañares.

If the Pap smear test is negative for three consecutive years, then it can be done every two or three years.

Women who never had sexual activity in their life should have a Pap smear test at age 35. Other screening procedures are acetic acid wash and HPV testing.

Measures

The following preventive measures are recommended by medical authorities: a one-partner sexual relationship, a delay in the first sexual intercourse, and the use of barrier contraceptives, like condoms, during sexual intercourse.

Pañares said poor knowledge about the disease has led many women to go to clinics only after the cancer is in its late stage.

DOH 7 further revealed that cervical cancer does not have symptoms. Often, the disease is detected during its advanced stage.

Cervical cancer may cause death, but when detected early it is curable, added Pañares.

The activities in the month-long celebration, which starts today, include a series of lectures on cervical cancer, free vaccinations for VSMMC regular employees, and a series of television and radio guestings.

“A photo exhibit of women afflicted with cervical cancer will also be set up at the Ayala Center Active Zone,” said Dr. Galbo, who added that each photo will have an accompanying storyline. Arvee F. Saren, CNU Comm Intern

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 01, 2012.

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