“Education is vital in fight vs cervical cancer in RP” — NCRFW

03 June 2009, MANILA – Ten Filipino families lose their mothers, sisters, wives or friends daily due to cervical cancer. Data from the Philippine Cancer Society revealed that cervical cancer is the second killer disease among Filipino women as it continues to claim the lives of 10 Filipino women everyday.

Recognizing the extent of the problem, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) supports the massive education campaign to fight cervical cancer.

NCRFW Chair Myrna T. Yao said women need to be educated about this killer disease so they can take charge of their health and their own body.

“Education is a key in the fight against cervical cancer but because of lack of awareness and neglect, many women are stricken with the disease as it exhibits no symptoms during the early stages. Experts say that cervical cancer is highly preventable and early detection of the disease could spell a big difference in the survival of women afflicted with this illness,” Chair Myrna T. Yao added.

Cancer experts from PCS reported in the 2005 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates that viral infections particularly from the human papilloma virus (HPV) cause cancer of the uterine cervix. The virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse, and the more numerous the sexual partners of the woman, or the woman’s male partner, the greater the risk of being exposed to the virus.

Safe sex, including the use of barrier protective devices such as condoms, offers the best prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Warning signs of cervical cancer includes irregular painless bleeding not associated with menstruation -intermenstrual, postcoital, post-douching, or postmenopausal. Unusual vaginal discharge is also common.

Cancer experts recommended that women should visit their OB-Gynecologists for a regular Pap smear -this is a highly effective screening method for the early detection of cervical cancer. With the use of Pap smear, lesions that eventually lead to cancer can be detected.

Through Pap smear, cervical cancer can be diagnosed that will prevent the full blown cervix cancer case. For the early stages of cervical cancer, surgery or radiotherapy can cure the disease.

Proper screening against cervical cancer is also important. There are programs in public health facilities that screens cervical cancer emphasizing on the visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) linked to cryotherapy treatment in a single visit approach (SVA). It helps Filipino women because it provides instant results. Vaccination is also important to boost the woman’s immunity against the disease.

“The government, non government organizations, civil society and the private sector should get involved and unite to raise awareness against cervical cancer. If we educate our women on the ways on how we can prevent the killer disease, we can not only save millions of women’s lives but also protect the children and families they belong to. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” and that holds true in our society where most women cannot afford the treatment costs,” Chair Yao noted.

The NCRFW Chair stressed that sexually active women should get a regular Pap smear as advised by their OB Gynecologists because it can detect changes early before they turn to cervical cancer. Women who are sexually active should practice safe sex because unprotected sex puts them at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases which can increase their risk factors for developing cervical cancer.