DOH pushes for screening, vaccination to prevent cervical cancer
CEBU CITY - The Department of Health (DOH) has offered free cervical screenings and treatments in observance of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus or HPV is the second among the most common cancer to hit women, according to Dr. Pherdes Galbo, president of the Philippine Obstetrical Gynecologist Society.
Dr. Galbo said about 65 patients per year are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Metro Cebu. And Dr. Galbo also pointed out that anyone with a history of premarital sex with other partners, even if they stayed exclusively monogamous with their spouse, is still at risk. It is also difficult to trace the source of the HPV virus. Sexually active women are the ones at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Also Dr. Helen Amorin, Gynoncologist from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), explains that early detection of cervical cancer means better chances of survival rate.
At stage 1, patients have a 90 percent chance of recovery with complete treatment. However, at stage 4, patients have at most a 30 percent chance of recovering in a best case scenario. There are two main ways to prevent it, with the primary prevention is getting an HPV vaccination.
And DOH will give free HPV vaccinations for nine to 10-year old females in the province of Cebu and through some local governments in Bohol, said Dr. Annessa Patindol, of the DOH.
Many local governments have also promoted free vaccines out of their Gender and Development budget, said Dr. Belinda N.panares, chairperson of the OB-GYN Department of VSMMC. She said women can ask their local barangay health centers about free vaccinations.
Since cervical cancer is asymptomatic in its earlier stages, screening via pap smear or visual inspection using acetic acid for women 21 – 65 years old is encouraged. Pap smear is best done yearly so that cervical cancer can be detected and treated in its early stages.
VSMMC, being a Doh-retained hospital, offers free screening and consultation, said Dr. Panares.
Dr. Panares said that despite their efforts to spread awareness, there is still stigma when it comes with cervical cancer because the virus causing it is transmitted through skin-to-skin genital contact or sex. Women would either be embarrassed to be screened for cervical cancer or those diagnosed with it would rather not disclose it because of the said stigma, she said.
In advance stages of cervical cancer, the symptoms would include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sexual intercourse. And in more advance stages, obstruction or difficulty in urinating, weight loss, lack of appetite and back pain are among the symptoms.