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Fight Out Cervical Cancer!

Cervical Cancer - What it is

As per the new globocan statistics, in 2018, cervical cancer was the second commonest cancer among women. In India, cervical cancer remains one of the 10 most common type’s cancers in women.

As per the statistics available, every year, more than 200 Singaporean women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 100 women die from it.

What is cervical cancer?

A malignant tumor or growth arising from the cervix i.e mouth of uterus is called as cervical cancer. The lower portion of the uterus that opens into the vagina is called as the cervix or ’neck of the womb.

Early cancer is silent.

It may show the following symptoms:

  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Foul smelling or blood-stained vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
  • Excessive white discharge

Can cervical cancer be prevented?

The good news is, yes!

Most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented.

Cervical cancer bears a unique natural history in its development. Abnormal cellular changes in the cervix occur before a cancer develops. These anomalous changes are known as cervical pre-cancer or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Effective treatment of CIN mitigates any impending woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.

Infection by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) is essential for the development of CIN or cervical cancer. The most significant cancer-inducing HPV strains are HPV-16 and HPV-18, respectively. HPV infection is quite common in young women after sexual debut.

Vaccination between 11 to 15 years against these HPV infections happens to be an effective method in reducing a woman’s risk of cervical cancer in the later years of life.

What should I do to prevent cervical cancer?

Your life is in your hands. Depending on your age, you may adopt the following strategies to safeguard yourself against cervical cancer:

HPV vaccination:

In India, HPV vaccines are licensed for females between 9 to 45years old. A full vaccination consists of three vaccine doses spread over a six-month period. Vaccine efficacy is extremely high for women who have never been exposed to HPV-16 and HPV-18 infections, respectively and the protection period is long-lasting. Records reflect that the safety profile of these vaccines is remarkable.

HPV vaccination is presently available at polyclinics, private clinics, and hospitals.

Cervical cancer/CIN screening:

Detection of CIN and/or cervical cancer before they become an obvious disease is the role of screening.

Screening can be done by a very simple PAP test, VIA or HPV DNA testing. These are O.P.D procedures only.

If a woman has a negative test, her risk for cervical cancer is extremely improbable in the next five years. She can confidently increase her screening interval to five years. This has been proven to be more cost-effective than conventional Pap smear screening alone.

• There are three possible outcomes of screening:

  • No abnormality detected. Go for the next screening test in five years.
  • Mild abnormality is present. Requires a follow-up test in one year.
  • Abnormal results. This warrants further investigation with colposcopy.

If I have screening tests at five-year intervals, should I continue with my yearly gynecological check-ups?

You should not change your routine visit to your gynecologist. Although your cervical cancer screening is done at five-yearly intervals, you still need to see your gynecologist for a number of reasons, for example:

Screening of other diseases

  • Managing menstrual problems, contraception, or fertility issues
  • Treatment of genital infection
  • Managing menopausal issues

Cervical Cancer - Diagnosis

How can cervical cancer be detected early?

A screening Pap smear test detects a very early cancer before it is visible to the naked eyes and the diagnosis is confirmed on a special examination known as colposcopy.

Early cervical cancer can be reversed very fast. In young women, treatment can be customized to preserve fertility.

Stay in regular touch with your gynecologist to detect the early symptoms of cervical cancer and fight it out.