Cervical cancer: 4th most common (...but preventable!) cancer in women worldwide.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in a woman’s cervix – the entrance to the uterus from the vagina.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide in year 2018. There are estimated 570,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide, and around 311,000 women died from the disease in the said period. 1
Based on the study carried out by Walboomers et al, most cases of cervical cancer (>99%) are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV).2 Although most HPV infections can resolve spontaneously without causing symptoms, frequent infections may lead to pathologic pathways, causing cancer cells to develop.
However, cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that are preventable! 3
Ways to prevent cervical cancer.
1. HPV vaccination
HPV vaccines are available to protect us from HPV infections. However, it is important to note that HPV vaccine can only prevent individuals from getting HPV infection, but not treating an existing infection.
2. Avoid promiscuous sexual activity
HPV infection can be passed from one person to another via skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, avoid promiscuous sexual activity may lower your risk of exposure to HPV.
3. Use a condom
As mentioned, HPV infection can be transmitted from one to another via skin contact. Hence, using a condom during sexual intercourse may minimize the risk of getting HPV infection.
4. Quit smoking
Not smoking is a significant action that can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. A study even showed that quitting smoking before cervical cancer treatment may improve survival rate!4
JM W, MV J, MM M, FX B, JA K, KV S, et al. Human Papillomavirus Is a Necessary Cause of Invasive Cervical Cancer Worldwide. The Journal of pathology; 1999. 189(1).
American Cancer Society. Can Cervical Cancer Be Prevented | Ways to Prevent Cervical Cancer [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jul 9]. Available from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html
Waggoner SE, Darcy KM, Fuhrman B, Parham G, Lucci J, Monk BJ, et al. Association between cigarette smoking and prognosis in locally advanced cervical carcinoma treated with chemoradiation: A Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Gynecologic Oncology; 2006.
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