Cervical Cancer: What You Should Know and Do About It

From all over the world, a woman dies from cervical cancer every two minutes. And without prevention, the next casualties may be yourself or the women closest to you. Be in the know. Be aware of the dangers posed by cervical cancer as well as the effective strategies for its prevention.

Here are some facts on one of the leading killers of women worldwide.

About cervical cancer

  • Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer worldwide for women, with over half a million new cases and around 288,000 deaths reported each year.
  • Over 80% of cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries such as the Philippines.
  • In the Philippines, over 7,000 new cases reported annually.
  • 12 Filipinas die of cervical cancer every day. It is also the 2nd biggest cause of female cancer mortality in the Philippines.
  • The Human papillomavirus or HPV, is the necessary cause of cervical cancer. It is a common virus that is easily transmitted.
  • 8 out of 10 women will have HPV in their lifetime, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
  • More than half of the women with cervical cancer will die within 5 years after diagnosis. Philippines has one of the lowest 5 year survival rates in the world. (Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates 2005)
  • Early cervical cancer produces no signs or symptoms.
  • All women are at risk. All women regardless of age, lifestyle or economic status is at risk of cervical cancer.
  • Vaccination alongside screening is a woman's best defense against cervical cancer.

HPV: the virus behind cervical cancer
  • HPV is a common virus that can be transmitted not only by engaging in sexual intercourse, but also from mere skin-to-skin contact (rubbing) of genital area (even without penile penetration).
  • Most HPV infections heal on their own; but this does not apply to all cases. When an HPV infection persists, it could develop into cervical cancer.
Preventing Cervical Cancer through Screening and Vaccination
  • Pap Smear - a screening technique wherein cells are scraped from the cervix and examined under a microscope to check for disease or other problems.
  • Vaccination - there are now vaccines available against cancer-causing HPV types 16 and 18. Along with regular screening, getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by 94% .
  • For young girls between 15-25 years old, long-lasting protection is necessary because it is when they will be most prone ti the HPV virus. However, that doesn't mean that women under or beyond that age bracket are safe. An HPV vaccination should provide long-term protection for all women, since they will be very vulnerable to HPV infections throughout their lives.
  • HPV vaccination is currently not included in DOH's public health programs such as the Expanded Program for Immunization and Cancer Control Program.
  • The DOH, however, establish a Cervical Cancer Screening Program in 2006. It is a nationwide program that includes sustainable capability building, educating, and training health workers on cervical cancer screening methods such as VIA, pap smear and the like.
Preventing Cervical Cancer through HPV Vaccine

There are 2 HPV Vaccines Available in the Market: One of which provides signiicant protection for women against the two most common cancer-causing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 & 18 for at least eight and a half years, the longest duration of protection reported to date. 

This vaccine has not demonstrated the need for a booster shot or a 4th dose even after more than 8 years after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Together, HPV types 16 and 18, together, are responsible for over 70% of cervical cancer cases in Asia Pacific.

It has also shown efficacy against lesions caused by 12 other cancer-causing HPV types beyond HPV 16 and  18. This includes the HPV strain 45, which is the third most common cancer-causing type in the Philippines. HPV strain 45 - also prevalently causes an aggresive form of cervical cancer called adenocarcinoma among Filipinas.

Mathematical modeling studies predict that women who have been vaccinated with cervical cancer vaccone will have detectable antibody levels above natural infection against HPV 16 and 18, for a least 20 to 25 years.

About Bravehearts

Bravehearts is a non-profit organization dedicated to raise awareness on cervical cancer prevention thru education, screening and vaccination. With the vision of having a cervical cancer-free Philippines, it has expanded its support base to touch more lives and empower

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