When it comes to August, us women always think about our health. So lets share some info to keep ourselves away from sickness! Although we can talk about so many things, lets start with something that we may not think will affect us: cervical cancer.
Ladies, did you know that the National Cancer Institute reported that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Thai women after breast cancer? The age-standardized incidence rate (ASR) shows that 18.6 out of 100,000 women are affected yearly.
Dr. Yuttasin Luamprapat, Director of Woman Health Center (Gynecologic Oncologist) at Samitivej Sriracha asked us to spread the word the incident of cervical cancer can decrease if screening is done properly to detect any abnormality in the early stages. This is because it takes quite some time for the cancer to develop and patients can be treated during its development. Some symptoms of cervical cancers are:
1. Discharge with strange odor.
2. Unusual bleeding that is not menstruation.
3. Backaches or aching around the pelvic area.
4. Bloody urine or feces.
Dr. Yuttasin elaborated that symptoms 3 and 4 are commonly found in stage 4 cervical cancer patients. This means that the symptoms may not be present in the early stages of cancer. So he suggested that women should get screened for early cervical cancer detection per the criteria suggested by the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
1. Women should get cytologic screening starting at the age of 25 for sexually active women and at the age of 30 for virgins. This is because cervical cancer is found in less than 0.5% in women under the age of 25 in Thailand.
2. Women between the ages of 25 65 should get screened for cervical cancer every two years. Other reproductive organs should get annual check-up.
3. For women over the age of 30 that have had normal pap smear at least 3 consecutive times, never had a history of cervical cancer or cervical treatment, and do not have deficient immune system can get screened every 3 5 years.
4. If cytological exam is performed with HPV DNA test in women over the age of 30 and the results are negative with both tests, you should get screened every 3 years.
5. Women who received HPV vaccine should still get screened regularly.
6. Women with deficient immune system should get screened every 6 months for the first year after diagnosis and once a year onward.
7. Women who have been treated for precancerous lesions or have had cervical cancer are still at risk and should get screened often as recommended by the attending physician.
In case that some women were found to have some abnormalities, Dr. Yuttasin advised that it is best to pay close attention by:
1. Getting screened within 3 6 months because if the abnormality is not severe, the body can get rid of it by itself
2. Getting a colposcopy, a procedure in which a biopsy is removed for diagnosis; and
3. Getting HPV testing to evaluate the risk of cervical cancer.
Dr. Yuttasin also assured us that a colposcopy procedure is not much painful and can be very informative. This is because the camera can magnify the image 6 40 times to see the margins clearly so that the biopsy can be removed from the correct site for accurate diagnosis.
Some treatment options of precancerous lesions include:
1. Watchful waiting if the lesion is not severe.
2. Removal with cryotherapy.
3. Removal by laser.
4.Complete hysterectomy in women that have had enough children or who are entering menopause.
Precancerous lesions can be treated, but women have to take care of themselves by getting screened. So ladies, we must change our mindset and dont be afraid to find out! If those pesky cancer cells are found early, they can be treated early!
If youre near Sriracha and still have questions or concern, youre welcome to visit Dr. Yuttasin at your leisure.