MANILA — Cervical cancer remains as the second most common cancer among Filipino women, a gynecologic oncologist said Friday.
According to Dr. Cecilia Llave, current estimates indicate that nearly 7,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually and around 4,800 die from the disease within the same year.
Majority of cervical cancers are due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection that can be prevented with the HPV vaccine.
"It's very important that you are screened even [if] wala kang signs and symptoms," Llave said during a DOH virtual town hall forum.
"Early diagnosis and treatment can save lives of our women."
Llave is a technical adviser of the Scale Up Cervical Cancer Elimination with Secondary Prevention Strategy (SUCCESS) project of the non-profit Jhpiego.
In the Philippines, some 35.6 million Filipino women are at risk from cervical cancer, she noted.
The risk factors of the disease include early sexual contact, having many children, and a history of sexually transmitted diseases.
Llave said many patients do not have symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer.
"Ang problema nga nito is a very quiet disease. Silent killer nga siya such that marami sa mga babae, nagsisimula ang cancer niya, wala pang nararamdaman," she said.
(The problem is it's a very quiet disease. It's a silent killer such that many women feel nothing at the onset of the disease.)
The late signs of cervical cancer include bleeding especially after coitus, difficulty of urination and defecation, and hypogastric and low back pains.
The World Health Organization recommends that screening should be conducted every 3 to 5 years even without signs and symptoms.
The UN health agency also recommends an HPV DNA based test, which is more sensitive and reliable for the detection of cervical precancer than Pap testing and VIA.
May is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
FROM THE ARCHIVES