January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month every year world over to remind us ladies about the importance of getting health checks to protect ourselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world, however it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer with routine screening and regular checks. In the UAE, at least 108 women are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a cancer arising from the cervix, it is a silent disease as it doesn’t show any symptoms in its early stages. HPV and its various strains are the main cause of cervical cancer. Regular screening and early detection can indicate abnormal cells and prevent cancer.
The Papanicolaou Smear Test or the PAP test, can help effectively detect abnormal cells in the cervix. This can help prevent up to about 80% of cervical cancer in women, before any symptoms develop. The HPV test on the other hand, helps detect the presence of HPV infections and is different from the PAP test. The Department of Health recommends all women between the ages of 16 and 26 to get vaccinated against HPV and all women who are married to take a PAP test every three to five years. If you fall in this age group or know a relative or friend who does, encourage them to opt for a cervical screening this month.
If you have been diagnosed with HPV, to better understand the frequency of tests to be done or the treatment plan to be followed, speak to your gynecologist. It is important to stick to all your scheduled appointments for tests and treatment in order to obtain a complete cure.
Can Vaccination against HPV help?
HPV vaccines can also be used effectively in preventing cervical cancer. They are safe and can greatly reduce the development of pre-cancerous cells in women, that can eventually lead to cervical cancer. Globally renowned brands that are also commonly available include Gardasil, Gardasail-9 & Cervarix.
Three doses of vaccine are given as the first dose which is followed by a dose 2 months later. The last dose is given 6 months after the first.
Speak to your doctor to know more about cervical cancer, its signs and symptoms and how it can be prevented.
Dr. Fatemeh Aghanasiri
Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches
For appointments & inquiries: https://asterclinic.ae/doctor/dr-fatemeh-aghanasiri/