3rd most common cancer in Thai women
According to 2020 statistics, cervical cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in Thai women, with an more than 9,000 new diagnosed cases and more than 5,000 deaths per year. Meaning that every day in Thailand, around 13 women die from cervical cancer.
Caused by HPV infection
Almost 100% of cervical cancer is caused by infection with HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
More than 85% of the population (both men and women) had been infected with HPV once in their lifetime!
According to statistics, more than 660,000,000 people worldwide are infected with HPV each year, which means that every hour, 75,000 people get infected.
Everyone has a chance of contracting HPV because
It can spread through skin-to-skin contact including kissing, any route of sexual intercourses ex. vaginal, anal, and oral. Sharing personal objects or devices with infected individuals can also be a cause of transmission.
Condom cannot provide 100% efficacy against HPV tramsmission. That’s why you do not need to have multiple sex partners to get HPV. You can get HPV from the first time you have sex!
HPV can cause many disease in both men and women.
There are more than 100 strains of HPV, of which can be categorized into two main types:
- Low-risk HPV types, especially HPV type 6 and 11, cause genital warts.
- High-risk HPV types, especially HPV type 16 and 18, infected cells have high risk of developing into the cancer cells.
HPV is the cause of the diseases and cancers as follows:
Cervical cancer is often asymptomatic.
HPV can live in the body for up to 10-30 years without any symptoms. Also, cervical cancer is often asymptomatic in early stage. It may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after sexual intercourse and abnormal vaginal discharge.
In late stages, it may cause symptoms caused by compression of the tumor, such as lower abdominal pain, swollen legs, etc.
How can we prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer?
The best prevention against HPV infection is HPV vaccination, which can provide up to 90-97% efficacy against HPV-related diseases and cancer (depending on the type of vaccine). It can be used for both men and women. Cervical cancer screening is required in women.
Cervical cancer screening test
Currently, there are 3 tests for cervical cancer screening.
*The ATHENA study, which compared Pap and HPV DNA tests in more than 47,000 women, found that this method was more sensitive in detecting precancerous lesions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends HPV testing (HPV DNA test) as the primary screening test for cervical cancer prevention for both women in general and women living with HIV. The American Cancer Society also recommends HPV testing (HPV DNA test) as the primary method of cervical cancer screening in women aged 25-65.
How to do the cervical cancer screening?
Usually, cervical cancer screening can be done in a clinic or hospital. This is most often done during an internal examination.
The patient must lie on her back with the feet up in stirrups. The doctor then inserts an instrument called speculum into the vagina to expand the vaginal canal so the cervix can be seen and allows the doctor to collect cell samples around the cervical area.
Pap test (Pap smear) must be repeated every 2 years. HPV DNA test, which is more sensitive, can be repeated every 5 years.
People at risk of cervical cancer need to be extra careful!
- People who have never screened for cervical cancer
- People who have never been vaccinated against HPV
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- People with immunocompromised, such as people with HIV Smoking
- People with history of sexually transmitted diseases
- People who have many children
- People who use oral contraceptives for a long time
If you are at risk, you should be screened for cervical cancer regularly or get frequent testing for HPV before your cells become cancerous.
Prevent it by start testing today!
In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced new guidelines for cervical cancer prevention which recommends collecting samples for examination that can be collected by healthcare provider or yourself.
Research has found that self-sample collection for cervical cancer screening is as accurate for finding HPV (HPV DNA) as sample collection by healthcare provider during a pelvic examination.
In Thailand, there are two types of HPV vaccines, 4-valent HPV vaccine and 9-valent HPV vaccine. It was found that the 9-valent HPV vaccine can prevent 97% of HPV-related diseases and cancers.