#TimeToTalkAboutHPV: A clear path to cervical cancer-free Philippines

Officials from the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network of the Philippines, Asia & Oceania Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and MSD in the Philippines discuss the importance of treating cervical cancer. | Photograph courtesy of MSD


September 9, 2022

A panel of doctors and patient advocates who spearheaded the freshly held health talk on cervical cancer titled #TimeToTalkAboutHPV: A health forum on HPV prevention and cancer control appealed to the public to stop spreading wrong information that cervical cancer immediately means a death sentence.

The forum — organized by the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network of the Philippines, together with the Asia & Oceania Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, and MSD in the Philippines, aims to serve as a reminder that cervical cancer is preventable with regular screening tests and the HPV vaccination.

Cervical cancer is largely preventable through both vaccination and screening for precursor lesions (pap smear at least every three years and HPV DNA testing for women starting age 30), with appropriate follow up and treatment. With access to accurate information, preventive services, and routine gynecological care, most cases of the disease can be prevented and successfully treated at an early stage.

It ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women in Philippines and the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. Current estimates indicate that every year 7,897 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,052 die from the disease.

Cervical cancer develops at the entrance to the uterus from the vagina and around 99 percent of the cases are linked to HPV or human papillomaviruses. Modes of transmission include sexual contact, skin-to-skin contact and rarely, through objects exposed to the virus.

It’s a highly-treatable disease if detected at its early stages. The precancerous stage provides ample window for detection and treatment, and it could take as long as 30 years before it reaches malignancy.

However, it is one of the most common type of cancers and common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, affecting mostly young, uneducated women from poor countries.

But more recently, Covid-19 has taken a toll on women’s health as studies have shown a gap in missed routine preventative exams and screening visits.

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