What every woman should know about cervical cancer
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 10:51 PM November 11, 2013
Dr. Esther Ganzon, gynecologic oncologist, said young people must learn about cervical cancer and HPV before they become sexually active. Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about the dreaded disease:
Cervical cancer is not genetically predisposed. It is 99 percent of the time cause by the easily transmittable DNA virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).
It’s not a disease exclusive to promiscuous women. Even those in a monogamous relationship have a 46 percent risk of developing cervical cancer after three years of remaining faithful to one partner.
Anybody with a cervix, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation and lifestyle is susceptible to developing cervical cancer.
It’s a cancer that is hard to detect at the early stage. There are almost always no symptoms during Stage 1 and 2 cervical cancer. Majority of the Filipino women are diagnosed at Stage 3 and 4, when they experience symptoms such as bleeding, vaginal pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, foul smelling watery discharge.
Annual smear test and screening can save your life. A pap smear, for instance, can detect precancerous lesions that are easily treatable by doctors.
The HPV vaccine can protect you from certain types of cervical cancer-causing HPV for up to 20 years. An annual smear test and screening is still recommended even after vaccination to rule out infection from other types of HPV.
Because sometimes the virus can’t be killed by heat, there’s a 5 percent chance the HPV can be transmitted from inanimate objects such as towels, underwear, dildos.
The risk begins once you become sexually active. Any form of sexual intimacy will make you vulnerable to the infection—kissing, necking, oral sex, genital skin-to-skin contact. Penetration is not a prerequisite.
There’s a 75-80 percent chance of women acquiring HPV in their lifetime, although not all will be fatal. There are over 100 different types of HPV. About 15 are considered risk factors for cancer
It takes 10-15 years from infection before it develops into full-blown cancer. So if you got infected at age 15, it develops into cancer in your mid- to late 20s. Anne A. Jambora