Women urged to get screened for cervical cancer
The Department of Health on Monday urged women to get screened for cervical cancer, which kills more than 12 women daily and is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among Filipino women.
“The tragedy of cervical cancer deaths is that this cancer is preventable and treatable. In fact, in developed countries, cervical cancer is much less common because screening and vaccination are well established,” said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
“Our goal now in the Philippines is to institutionalize HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) immunization and screening so that our precious women will no longer die of cervical cancer,” she added.
In observance of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month this May, the Department of Health (DOH) offers free cervical screenings using the VIA (visual inspection using acetic acid) method for women aged 25 to 55 years at selected DOH hospitals nationwide.
“With regular screening, women will know if there are changes in their cervix due to HPV infection, which may eventually progress into cancer,” Ubial explained.
According to her, nearly 100 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV or Human Papilloma Virus.
“It is unfortunate that everyday more than 12 women die from this disease, primarily because they are detected late and were not given early protection,” she said.
As part of its National Cancer Prevention and Control Program, the DOH spearheads this year’s commemoration of Cervical Cancer Consciousness Month with the theme “Babae, Mahalaga Ka! Magpa-Screen… NOW Na!” (Woman, You Are Priceless! Get Screened…At Once!).
Under the campaign against cervical cancer, which is now on its 9th year, the DOH urges women to be educated on HPV-related diseases, encouraging them to undergo early and regular screening as well as get themselves protected through HPV immunization.
Furthermore, as part of its plan to curb the burden of this preventable disease in the country, the DOH announced the expansion of its HPV immunization program to include more provinces, in order to increase the number of beneficiaries (9-year-old Grade IV girls in public schools) of its free quadrivalent HPV vaccines – vaccine that protects against the four strains of HPV.
Based on DOH data, every year, more than 6,000 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer and the disease is usually detected late because the affected women may have no obvious early signs and symptoms.
“The mortality rate of cervical cancer is high if detected late. However, fewer than half of these patients are still alive five years after their diagnosis. Usually, these patients are between 35 and 55 years of age–young women who are often breadwinners in their families, as well as caretakers of the children and the elderly. This makes the effects of this cancer truly catastrophic,” the DOH said./ac
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