One of the things women have to be most vigilant about due to our hectic lifestyles and less-than-ideal dietary habits is cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the top 10 most common cancers among women in Singapore. But what if there was a way you could protect yourself from it?
Regular screening allows early detection of pre-cancer stage and prompt treatment. The treatment is very effective and offers more than 90 per cent chance of cure. Cervical cancer is also a cancer that you can vaccinate yourself against. Here are ﬁve fast facts you should know about cervical cancer:
It starts at the cervix
Cervical cancer is a cancer that develops at the neck of the womb. This area, known as the cervix, is located in the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Put simply, when cells in the cervix experience abnormal changes they can become cancerous.
It is caused by HPV
One of the most common causes of cervical cancer is a viral infection called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which spreads through skin-to-skin contact such as sexual activity. Getting a HPV infection is as common as getting a common cold. Our bodies will usually clear the infection on its own but a persistent infection can lead to cervical cancer. There are over 100 HPV strains but only 13 can cause cervical cancer. This is because they can cause a persistent infection in the cervix and over the course of time it can lead to cervical cancer.
There are no signs and symptoms
Cervical cancer is dangerous because any woman who has engaged in any sexual activity is susceptible to it. There are usually no signs and symptoms in the early stages thus, it is important to get screened regularly as cervical cancer is a slow-progressing condition and one can live up to 15 years with it before it develops into cervical cancer.
Regular screening can detect it
All women who are above the age of 25 and have ever had sex should begin screening for cervical cancer every three to ﬁ ve years depending on your age. Cervical screening includes either a Pap test (helps to detect abnormal cervical cells) for women between 25 to 29 years old or a HPV test (tests for the high-risk HPV strains) for women who are 30 years old and above. All these tests are heavily subsidised when you get them under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) General Practitioner (GP) clinics.
Vaccination can protect you
Females between nine to 26 years old are encouraged to go for a HPV vaccination. The beneﬁ ts of this vaccination are maximised when given before you engage in any sexual activity. However, you can still beneﬁt from it even if you have ever had sex as you may not have been exposed to the highrisk strains yet. To ﬁnd out more about the different types of HPV vaccinations and dosages in Singapore, visit healthhub.sg/ HPV-immunisation.
GET TESTED NOW
Under the ‘Screen For Life’ programme, women aged 25 years or older can go for HPV tests or Pap tests at CHAS GP clinics islandwide. You only pay $2 for CHAS cardholders and $5 for Singaporeans for the tests under this programme. To check your eligibility, call the hotline at 1800 233 1313 or visit healthhub.sg/cervicalscreening for more information.