Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women. Some 14 Thai women die from this disease every day.
Most cervical cancer cases are caused by the infection of Human Papillomavirus, usually known as HPV, HPV types 16 and 18 are the two major HPV types that cause cervical cancer.
Risk factors that may cause women, no matter young or old, to get cervical cancer include:
- Having sex at an early age
- Having many sexual partners or have a partner who has had many sexual partners
- Taking birth control pills for a long time (the risk is high if the period is more than five years)
- Been pregnant and in labour more than four times
- Has a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea and herpes
- Lack of regular cervical cancer screening
Cervical cancer is divided into four stages:
- Stage 1 – The cancer cells have grown in the cervix area but is not spreading.
- Stage 2 – Cancer grows beyond the cervix to surrounding areas, such as the upper part of the vagina, the tissues next to the cervix (called the parametria).
- Stage 3 – Cancer has spread to the tissues nearby, such as the lower part of the vagina, lymph nodes, and the pelvis walls.
- Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to the bladder, intestine, or outside the pelvic area to distant organs such as lungs, liver, or bones.
Ensure cervical cancer screening at least once a year. Not changing sexual partners too often and use condoms. Get HPV vaccine to prevent the infection.
CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING
The Cytology test or Pap (Papanicolaou) smear that tests cells from the cervix, which requires examination in the lithotomy position for vaginal examination. Urine testing for HPV is an innovation that has accuracy of up to 99 per cent. But this is not a replacement for Pap smear. It can be an alternative option for women who are afraid of feeling hurt or are too shy to be examined in the lithotomy position.