Written in collaboration with Vaksinin
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide. In 2018, around 570,000 women developed cervical cancer and about 311,000 of them died from it.
Cervical cancer itself is a disease in which malignant cells grow in the cervical area, the 'door' that connects the uterus and vagina. Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. The changes that occur cause cancer cells to spread deeper and to the surrounding area.
Photo courtesy of Mount Elizabeth Singapore
What are the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer?
- Can be asymptomatic in the early or pre-cancerous stages
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse or urination
- Pain in the pelvic area (the area between the navel and groin)
Who can get cervical cancer?
All women are at risk for cervical cancer. However, it is most common in women over the age of 30
What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), transmitted through sexual intercourse (can also be transmitted through skin contact with the skin of the genitals), is the primary cause of cervical cancer
- Sexual history, being sexually active and having sex with more than 1 partner
- Weak immune system conditions, for example people with HIV infection
- Smoking weakens the immune system and damages body cells
- Pregnancy history - having been pregnant more than 3 times, first pregnancy at <20 years old
- Aging - those that are above 30 years old are more susceptible to cervical cancer
How to prevent cervical cancer?
- HPV Vaccination
- Do not smoke
- Routinely do a Pap smear or similar for women who have had sex
- Avoid changing partners
- Using a condom during sexual intercourse
HPV vaccination is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer.
What to do if you have cervical cancer risk factors?
There are 3 types of checks that can be performed:
- HPV DNA test
- IVA (Visual Inspection of Acetic Acid)
- PAP smear
Why do you need to do routine cervical cancer screening?
Cervical cancer can be asymptomatic in the early or precancerous stages, people may not be aware of any physical symptoms
The right treatment for cervical cancer at an early stage gives a much higher chance of recovery.
Do people who have had sex need a Pap smear before they can get vaccinated?
Pap smear examination aims to see if there has been a malignant process in the cervix / early detection of cervical cancer so that if it occurs it can be treated immediately.
While the HPV vaccination aims to prevent infection by the HPV virus. HPV vaccination will still protect against the types of HPV contained in the vaccine. In addition, the HPV vaccine will not aggravate if an abnormality has occurred in the cervix.
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