Cervical cancer is one of the major mortality causes of death and the second-most common cancer in Thai women, and a major public health issue in Thailand.
The exact cause of cervical cancer is known. 99% of cervical cancer is caused by a human papilloma virus infection, commonly referred to as HPV infection. The HPV that causes cervical cancer has approximately 13-14 strains. There are 2 strains that are commonly found, namely strain 16 and 18.
One can get HPV virus by having sexual intercourse with an infected individual. Therefore, as HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer, it can be effectively prevented. There is nothing to be ashamed of when a woman comes for HPV check up.
The duration of cervical cancer progression is relatively slow, which is considered a positive side of cervical cancer. It takes about 10-15 years time for the woman who acquired HPV virus to develop cervical cancer, which is an advantage as we can detect and treat it beforehand.
Cervical Cancer Prevention
There are three steps to cervical cancer prevention.
First step or primary prevention
The primary prevention step is to prevent cervix from getting infected by HPV virus.
- As almost all HPV infections are caused by sexual intercourse, safe sex should be practiced.
- Condoms should be when having sex. However, the use of condoms cannot entirely prevent HPV infections.
- Vaccination for cervical cancer is the most attainable preventive measure than the prior options above. Cervarix and Gardasil are two common brands of HPV. The effectiveness of the vaccine is best for those who have not been previously infected with the HPV virus or for women who have never had sex before.
Second step or secondary prevention
This step is recommended when the HPV virus has already been acquired and this avoids it from developing into cervical cancer. This is considered very important as well because women may not be able to easily prevent HPV infection but we still have a way to prevent cervical cancer which is regularly having a Pap Smear Check. Women are mostly reluctant to do Pap Smear but there is nothing to be ashamed of because this method really helps. There are various methods to choose from, whether it is a conventional Pap smear, Liquid base (Thin prep, Cy prep) or HPV testing.
Third step or tertiary prevention
This step is the best treatments for cervical cancer so that the patient will no longer suffer from the cervical cancer.
From all that have been mentioned above, every woman should be aware on how to prevent acquiring cervical cancer. Therefore, we should not wait until the symptoms occur because it may already be too late.
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