The cervix is part of the female reproductive system located at the junction of the vagina and the uterus (womb). It is often called the neck of the womb.
In the Philippines, Cervical Cancer is the 2nd leading cancer site among women. An estimated 7,277 new cases of, and 3,807 deaths due to, cervical cancer are expected to occur every year.
Generally, all women who have had sexual intercourse are at risk of cervix cancer. However, rare types of cervical cancer can occur even in women who never had any sexual intercourse in their life.
In recent studies, there had been overwhelming evidence that an infectious agent particularly human papiloma virus (HPV) that is transmitted through sexual intercourse causes cancer of the cervix.
The following had been established as possible causes of cervix cancer:
- have had multiple sexual partners
- have had sexual partners (regular or casual) who themselves had several sexual partners
- have had sexual partner who is infected with human papilloma virus
- had first sexual intercourse at a very early age, possibly 15 or 16 years old
Generally, cervix cancer do not have symptoms. Often, the disease is detected during its advance stage. However, the following impressions often lead to cervix cancer:
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina at any time
- Unpleasant vaginal discharge
Cervical cancer when detected early is curable. At present, the most reliable and practical way to diagnose early cervical cancer is through Pap smear.
A woman’s first Pap smear should be done 3 years after the first vaginal intercourse. After that, it should be done every year for 3 years. If the Pap smear test is negative for the consecutive 3 years, then it can be done every two or three years. In unmarried women who never had sexual activity in their life, Pap smear should be done at age 35.
Since there is almost universal acceptance that cervical cancer is primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse, the following preventive measures should be followed:
- a one-partner sexual relationship between partners should be observed
- a delay on the first sexual intercourse
- use of barrier contraceptives like condoms during sexual intercourse
Source: Department of Health