According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In the Philippines, it is the second leading cause of death among Filipino women, next only to breast cancer. The Department of Health estimates that 12 women die from the disease every day.
It is caused by strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is passed through skin-to-skin contact, particularly sexual intercourse. Although most infections with HPV cause no symptoms, persistent genital HPV infections can cause cervical cancer in women. The WHO has found that all cervical cancer cases (99%) are linked to genital infection with HPV and it is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. The virus can also cause other types of anogenital cancer, head and neck cancers, and genital warts in both men and women. HPV infections are transmitted through sexual contact.
This is why the DOH has recommended HPV vaccinations to protect women not only from cervical cancer, but also from other diseases such as genital warts and vaginal and anal cancers. The vaccine is best administered to young adults prior to being exposed to HPV, in order for their resistance to HPV infections to be at optimum levels. About a dozen high-risk HPV types have been identified. Two of these — HPV types 16 and 18 — are responsible for most HPV-caused cancers (2, 3).
Anyone who has ever been sexually active can get HPV. HPV is easily passed between partners through sexual contact. HPV infections are more likely in those who have had many sex partners, or have had sex with someone who has had many partners. Even a person who has had only one partner can get HPV. Because the infection is so common, most people get HPV infections shortly after becoming sexually active for the first time.
The Cancer.Gov site in the US says that someone can have an HPV infection even if they have no symptoms and their only sexual contact with an HPV-infected person happened many years ago.
According to the US National Cancer Institute website, HPV vaccines work like other immunizations that guard against viral infections. The vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies that, in future encounters with HPV, bind to the virus and prevent it from infecting other cells. The website further states that HPV vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target when given before initial exposure to the virus—which means before individuals begin to engage in sexual activity.
The vaccines were found to provide protection against persistent cervical infections with HPV types 16 and 18 and the cervical cell changes that these persistent infections can cause. In addition, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine released on 2006 states that the vaccines can “reduce the need for medical care, biopsies, and invasive procedures associated with follow-up from abnormal cervical screening, thus helping to reduce health care costs and anxieties related to follow-up procedures.”
The way to protect more women from Cervical Cancer is to make sure that the prevention is all inclusive. This is why the DOH encourages Filipinas to undergo cervical cancer screening. Pap smear or visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA) should be done on women who are sexually active or have a history of sexual contact as cervical cancer screening methods. Cervical cancer can be treated and cured if detected early.
The WHO says that the first step is education. This is why Healthway Medical is active in providing Cervical Cancer information for Filipina women, so that more may know how they can prevent the condition. Healthway Medical supports the WHO and the DOH in their campaign to protect women from Cervical Cancer through early screening and interventions such as vaccination.
Visit any Healthway Medical branch for a check-up and consultation on how to prevent HPV and Cervical Cancer. For more information about this campaign, call Customer Care Hotline (02) 751 4929 or visit the Healthway Medical website at www.healthway.com.ph
About Healthway Medical
As the most trusted and preferred network of mall-based clinics in the Philippines, Healthway Medical has revolutionized the way healthcare is being provided to its patients for nearly two decades. The company offers unparalleled customer-centric experience on top of optimum primary and multidisciplinary care from its reputable and experienced doctors, allowing its seven clinics at the Alabang Town Center, Shangri-La Plaza, Market! Market!, Festival Mall, 8 Adriatico Manila, SM The Block and Greenbelt 5 to earn a remarkable standing in the country in terms of preventive healthcare.