What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer that forms in the cervical tissue of the female reproductive system. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer usually occurs slowly over time, and often has no symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms do occur, they may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or pain during sexual intercourse.
What is the cause of cervical cancer?
The main cause of cervical cancer is infection with HPV (human papillomavirus), which is a sexually transmitted virus. There are many different types of HPV, and not all of them lead to cervical cancer. However, some types of HPV can cause changes in the cervical cells that can eventually lead to cancer.
What can I do to prevent cervical cancer?
The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening. There are two things that you can do to prevent cervical cancer: Pap test or through vaccination.
A Pap test (or Pap smear) is the best way to screen for cervical cancer. Hong Kong's Department of Health recommends that women aged 25-64 years with sexual experience should have regular pap tests. After two consecutive years of normal test results, the pap test can be done at a three-year interval.
During a Pap test, your doctor will remove a small sample of cervical cells and send them to a laboratory for testing. If changes in the cells are found early, they can be treated before they turn into cancer.
For more information about a pap test, please click here.
Another way to prevent cervical cancer is through vaccination. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys at ages 11 or 12, but it can be given as young as age 9. The HPV vaccine is also recommended for young women up to age 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots, and for young men up to age 21 who have not been vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots.
For more information about HPV vaccine, please click here.
What should I do if I suspect cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but it can be prevented through screening and vaccination. If you think you may have cervical cancer, see your doctor right away. Early detection is key to successful treatment. Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. The type of treatment you receive will depend on various factors such as the stage of your cancer and your overall health.
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Information provided by:
Dr. NG Yuet Tao, Dorothy, Spsecialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology