Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the world. In 2018, an estimated 570 000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 311 000 women died from the disease. However in Singapore, it is the 10th most common cancer affecting women.
**facts from https://www.who.int/health-topics/cervical-cancer
As with most Women’s Illness, early diagnosis and treatments are very important. An experienced & professional Gynaecologist can help identify the illness, treat you and support you as you recover.
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?
The cervix is lined by a layer of cells that can change and become. If left untreated, these cells can become cancerous and grow into tumors.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL CANCER?
Early-stage cervical cancer does not usually produce any symptoms, so the disease often goes unnoticed in its initial stages.
In asymptomatic women, cervical cancer may be diagnosed following a gynaecological; therefore, regular gynaecological check-ups are very important in the early detection of cervical cancer. Symptoms generally only appear in more advanced stages of the disease. The most common symptoms are:
- Abnormal vagina bleeding. Postmenopausal bleeding, bleeding between, heavier or longer periods, or bleeding after sexual intercourse.
- Abundant vaginal discharge.
- Pelvic pain.
In advanced stages, patients may also notice pain in the lower abdomen, lower back pain, urinary symptoms (pain when urinating or blood in urine) and weight loss.
Cervical cancer starts as precancer in the cells on the cervix surface. Preca+ncerous changes are called dysplasia. The development of cervical cancer is very slow and can have several complications. Untreated cervical cancer can spread to the bladder, intestines, lymph nodes, bones lungs, and liver and ultimately lead to death.
HOW IS CERVICAL CANCER TREATED IN SINGAPORE?
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on many factors, including the stage of the cancer, the cancer cell type, your general health, and desire to have children in the future. Sometimes it is difficult to decide on the type of treatment to have. You may feel that everything is happening too fast, or you might be anxious to get started.
There are four options:
- Palliative Care
HOW DOES A HPV INFECTION PUTS YOU AT RISK OF CERVICAL CANCER?
Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted infection. Research has shown that HPV normally happens slowly and often goes away on their own, especially in younger women.
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses, some of which cause a type of growth called a papilloma, which are more commonly known as warts. Some types of HPV are called high-risk types because they are strongly linked to cancers, including cancer of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women, penile cancer in men, and cancers of the anus, mouth and throat in both men and women. The high-risk types include HPV 16, HPV 18, HPV 31, HPV 33, and HPV 45, as well as some others. There might be no visible signs of infection with a HPV until pre-cancerous changes or cancer develops.
WHAT ARE OTHER RISK FACTORS OF CERVICAL CANCER?
Other lifestyle factors are also linked to cervical cancer but this may be because they are also associated with an increased risk of HPV infection. These includes: Smoking.
- First intercourse at a younger age.
- High number of sexual partners.
- HIV infection.
HOW CAN I LOWER MY RISK OF CERVICAL CANCER?
The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 25 in Singapore.
- The HPV test looks for the virus (human papilloma virus) that can cause these cell.
- The pap smear looks for any abnormal cells from the lining of the cervix
- HPV Vaccine – The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
These things may also help lower your risk for cervical cancer –
- Don’t smoke.
- Use condoms during sex.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING
Early cervical cancer usually have no sigs or symptoms. However, it can be detected early with regular check ups. The earlier the detection, the higher the chance of successful treatment.
The Pap test, also called the Pap smear, is a cervical cancer screening test. This is done in an outpatient setting. The test is conducted by using a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen the vagina. The doctor or nurse will then examine the vagina and cervix, and collect a cell sample from the cervix and the area around it with a small brush. These cells are then placed on a slide or in a collection bottle (liquid based cytology) and sent to laboratory to be checked for abnormal cells.
The high-rick HPV (hrHPV) test can also be done using the same sample collected to test for the presence of these viruses that may cause cervical cancer. Women should begin having cervical cancer screening at age 25, or within three years of first sexual activity – whichever happens first.
- If you are between 25 and 29, you should get a Pap test every 3 years.
- If you are between 30 and 70, you should get a HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test every 3 years.
PREVENT CERVICAL CANCER WITH HPV VACCINATION
Cervical cancer can often be prevented by having regular screenings to find any precancers and treat them, as well as receiving the HPV vaccine.
To help prevent cervical cancer, it is recommended that girls receive HPV vaccination. Talk with a health care provider about the appropriate schedule for vaccination because it may vary based many factors, including age and vaccine availability.
Finally, living with cervical cancer can present new challenges for you and your loved ones. You might worry about how it will affect your everyday life. Many people feel anxious or depressed, and some are angry and resentful.
Talking about your feelings and concerns can help.
Your friends and family members can be supportive. If you want to talk, let them know. They may be waiting for a cue from you.