Early Detection Of Cervical Cancer Can Save Lives

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Cervical cancer is a serious yet highly preventable illness. Having regular Pap tests and pelvic examinations are the first line of defense for the early detection of cervical cancer and prevent it from becoming worse. Pap tests and pelvic exams can also find and treat the changing cells before they turn into cancer.

An online resource defines cervical cancer as “cancer in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during a woman's pregnancy. The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina (birth canal), which leads to the outside of the body.”

But sadly, normal Filipino women either do not have proper access to regular Pap tests or they cannot afford it because of economic constraints. In fact, Filipino women have the highest incidence of cervical cancer in East Asia because of the lack of Pap tests that can indicate cervical cancer in its earliest stage.

“Cervical cancer is among the most preventable cancers and even curable. In our experience, even a simple Pap Smear can be very helpful. If the Pap Smear is abnormal and is investigated with pre-malignant lesions, proper treatment can prevent cervical cancer,” Dr. Rey de los Reyes, associate professor of Far Eastern University’s (FEU) OB-Gyne Department and secretary of POGS, said.

To help Filipino women fight this type of cancer, the Philippine Obstetrical & Gynecological Society (POGS) is conducting lectures and seminars in different areas of the country and provide free Pap Smear.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the main causes of cervical cancer. It can be passed on from person to person via sexual intercourse.

There are several risk factors in developing cervical cancer, Dr. de los Reyes said. Among these are “women who have early sexual intercourse, women who have their first sexual intercourse in their teens (aged 15, 16 or 18), women who have multiple sexual partners, or even those who have one sexual partner but their sexual partners have multiple sexual partners in the past.”

Women who have multiple sexual partners are at risk of developing infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), he added. Women, who are in their mid-30s, late 30s up to their 60s, are also at risk of developing this kind of cancer.

Dr. de los Reyes also mentioned that symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal discharge, bleeding after sexual contact or vaginal spotting, or actual bleeding. During the advanced stage, the patient will experience severe pain in the abdomen or gastric pains. Treatment range from surgery and radiotherapy for advanced stages; and chemotherapy for early stages.

Again, Dr. de los Reyes cannot over-emphasize it enough: getting regular Pap tests, pelvic examinations and check-ups with their trusted gynecologists can early detect cervical cancer, which eventually can save lives.
by. Mia Cabacungan