What you need to know about the tenth most common cancer among Singaporean women.
Cervix cancer is ranked the top 10 most common cancer among Singaporean women
The cancer starts in the cervix, which is located in the lower part of the uterus that opens into the top of the vagina. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which is spread through sexual intercourse.
Cervix cancer is the most preventable
Early detection can lead to greater chances of a cure. It can be detected through regular Pap smears. All sexually active women who aged 25 and above should go for regular Pap smear screening and get HPV vaccination. Always practice safe sex by using condoms.
Cervix cancer is easily treated in the early stage
Before HPV infection progresses to cancer, it causes a pre-cancerous condition called dysplasia. This 100% treatable condition can be detected by a Pap smear. Pre-cancerous and early-stage cervical cancer can be completely cured through removing the abnormal tissue, without affecting the uterus or damaging the cervix and maintaining fertility. The later cervical cancer is detected, the greater the chance that the cancer can spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs and liver.
Cervical cancer does not often cause noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages.
The biggest fallacy about many cancers, including cervical cancer, is the notion that it will cause obvious signs such as pain or swelling. Early stages of cervical cancer may have no obvious symptoms. Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, vaginal bleeding in between menstrual periods or after menopause; or abnormal vaginal discharge stained with blood or foul smelling are possible indicators of contracting this form of cancer.
What treatment is available for cervix cancer spotted at the later stage?
When the cervix cancer has advanced into late stage, large amount of abnormal tissue will need to be removed from the cervix, incurring higher risks of premature birth or having a low birth weight baby. In the more advanced stages, treatment such as radical hysterectomy may need to be introduce to remove the uterus, surrounding tissue, lymph nodes and the upper part of the vagina to ensure the best results.
How is Cervix cancer diagnose?
Beside looking out for the indicators above, Pap smear is the trustworthy method to detect possible cervix cancer. If abnormal changes are found on a Pap smear, your doctor will examine the cervix under magnification with the help of a microscope in a procedure called colposcopy. During colposcopy, small pieces of tissue may be removed and sent to a laboratory for examination.
What do you do if you suspect that you might have cervical cancer?
Seek medical help. A patient suspecting to have cervical cancer will be assessed and given customised treatment based on the stage of the cancer, size of tumour, patient’s age and health condition and her desire to have children in the future.