Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Stay Away from Cervical Cancer

It was to my great surprise when the gynae told me the other day that we can now take vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, gynae took out a brochure and told me “Think about it, it’s good for yourself”. Well, firstly I have not heard about it before, secondly I doubt we can prevent cancer. So I go on to study about it, here’s some fact to share:

What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal growth and division of cells that make up the cervix, which is the narrow, lower end of the uterus (womb). Cervix is the neck of the womb (uterus) and it connects the body of the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

What is the cause?
Cervical cancer is caused by a common virus called Human PapillomaVirus (HPV) and at least 50% of people who are sexually active will get genital HPV. HPV has nothing to do with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. There are 46 genetic types of HPV, but not all are dangerous. Only certain types of HPV, which can be transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact, increase the risk of cell dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) and/or progression to cervical cancer.

Who is at risk?
Every year, about half a million women have cervical cancer and about a quarter million die, and it is sad to know that every two minutes a woman dies of cervical cancer. In Malaysia, an average of about 2,000 to 3,000 women are admitted to hospitals for cervical cancer every year and about 500 die from it. The National Cancer Registry Report 2003 lists cervical cancer as the second-most common cancer that affects women in Malaysia, accounting for 12.9% of all female cancers.

Can it be prevented?
Until recently the only way to prevent cervical cancer wa regular Pap Smear testing to look for early signs of the disease. Pap Smear is a test that checks the cell on the cervix for changes that could lead to cancer. The good news is there is now other means of protection against cervical cancer.

Types of vaccines:

1. Cervarix
Cervarix is a vaccine intended to protect females against the diseases caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases.

2. Gardasil :
Gardasil is the cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of human papillomavirus (HPV): 2 types that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. Gardasil is for girls and young women ages 9 to 26.

How the vaccine works?
Vaccination is to prevent HPV infection and may help to reduce risk of cervical cancer and other HPV related diseases caused by certain types of HPV. Ideally, a female should get the vaccine before they are sexually active because the vaccine is most effective in female who have not yet acquired any of the HPV types covered by the vaccine.

How much it costs?
At the moment, the market price of each dose of vaccine ranges from RM400-RM450 per dose. One will receive 3 doses where after the first does, the second and third dose will be given 2 months and 6 months after the first dose.

I came across this when I ran through all the news clipping :“The decision to protect your health is your own responsibility – you owe it to yourself, your husband and your children to do what it takes to protect yourself from this disease.” I’m seriously considering the vaccine, and you hope you feel the same and please spread the news to all ladies around.