The letter 'X' is mostly portrayed as a negative letter, but this time, 'X' could mean something positive. Radio DJ and bride-to-be Andi Manzano is the latest ambassador of X Means Love, a campaign that aims to spread cervical cancer and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine awareness among Filipinas. She threw an unconventional bridal shower party, not the usual frilly and kooky get-together, but a gathering to educate the importance of taking advantage of the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is an essential key to putting a stop to the disease.
Read on to know fast facts about the disease, which affects three out of four women globally.
What is cervical cancer? How serious is it?
Cervical cancer happens when malignant cells form in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus. It is the second most common cancer among women around the world including the Philippines. Its early stage won’t show any signs or symptoms. It has been killing 1,856 Pinays out of the 4,544 diagnosed every year.
What causes cervical cancer and what age should I start worrying about it?
The main cause of cervical cancer is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). As soon as you get sexually active, it does not matter whether you’re engaged with single or multiple partners, you become at risk of catching the virus. It is also important to note that apart from intercourse, HPV can still be passed on orally and through touching. Other risk factors are smoking, weak immune system, metal stress, and constant intake of contraceptive pills. Women who reside in depressed areas are also more prone to catching the disease because they lack in proper screening. Up to 80% of women will acquire HPV infection in their lifetime. Cervical cancer normally occurs in women age 30 to55 years old—the prime of a woman's life.
How can I prevent this? How much would it cost me?
An ounce of prevention will always be worth more than a pound of cure. Having yourself checked and getting the HPV vaccine will reduce your risk. You can ask your Ob-Gyne to screen your cervix to see HPV-induced changes through Pap Tests or HPV-DNA exams. You can expect to spend from P500 to P2000 for these. HPV Vaccination is the primary tool to fight and bar cervical cancer. The vaccine is divided into three doses, the cost normally ranging from P2500 to P5000 per dose.
What are the usual symptoms?
Cervical cancer doesn't show any symptoms in its early stage. This is the main reason why women should have regularl cervical pap tests. As one goes further into the cancer, she may observe the following symptoms:
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain in the pelvis
- Discomfort and bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding in post-menopausal women
- Vaginal discharge with odor
- Vaginal discharge tinged with blood
If I’m already afflicted with the disease, what should I do?
Treatment costs depend on the stage of the disease when it was detected. You need to consult with your doctor about the treatment you need to get and more importantly to talk to your family. You will need all the support and they could give.