In the Philippines, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, second only to breast cancer. It is the abnormal growth of cells in the cervix and is caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV. According to Regina Angela Balinghasay-Agoncillo, M.D., Ob-gyne from Cabrini Medical Center in Batangas, "This virus causes infection in the cervix and women prone to develop infection are those who have multiple sexual partners or those who don't practice safe sex. They can get the infection from sexual partners who are infected with HPV."

However, not all HPV strains will cause cancer. Read on to learn more about cervical cancer and how you can protect yourself.

Symptoms
"During the early part of illness, the woman may have no symptoms, but as the cancer progresses, the patient will note vaginal bleeding between menses or after sexual intercourse," says Dr. Balinghasay-Agoncillo. "She may experience pain during sexual intercourse. Some patients will present with foul smelling vaginal discharge."

Prevention

Pap smears can help you detect the cancer early. "[Have one] once you become sexually active and not when they already have kids or when they are about to start intake of pills," says Dr. Balinghasay-Agoncillo.
Aside from the pap smear, there are cervical cancer vaccines, which doctors give for three doses within a period of six months. The vaccines are ideally given at an early age, about 10 years old, but more importantly, women should always practice safe sex.


When you should see a doctor
Abnormal vaginal bleeding during the reproductive age group or during menopause should alarm a patient enough to seek consult. "Any vaginal discharge should also be a reason for a patient to consult her physician since cervical cancer usually starts from a vaginal infection."

Source: Regina Angela Balinghasay-Agoncillo, M.D., OB Gyne, Cabrini Medical Center Sto. Tomas, Batangas (UERM Doctor of Medicine ’85, Fabella)

PHOTO: Pixabay

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