Is it necessary to get a cervical cancer vaccine? Should your daughters get one, too, once they reach their teenage years?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes the disease is commonly spread by having sex with someone who has the virus. Therefore, anyone who is sexually active could easily contract the virus and develop the disease.
According to Dr. Jennifer Santiago, an Obstetrician in the US and a strong supporter of the cervical cancer vaccine, it is estimated that up to 90% of women in the US will acquire HPV. The statistics are quite staggering: • Cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in the Asia-Pacific region, with approximately 266,000 cases. • In the Philippines, about 6,000 women develop cervical cancer each year, and it is estimated that more than half of them die from the disease. • Contraceptives offer no guarantee. There is still a 50% chance that the virus may be transmitted between sexual partners even with the use of a condom. • Cervical cancer usually presents no symptoms.
Because of the rise of HPV cases in the Philippines, private organizations have begun an information campaign called Help Fight HPV to educate the public about the virus and to make them understand their options for prevention.
Recently, pharmaceutical companies have developed a vaccine that would help prevent HPV types 16 and 18 which, together, are the cause of over 70% of cervical cancer cases in Asia Pacific. In the Philippines, there are two kinds of vaccines women can choose from : Gardasil (about P5,000), locally distributed by Merck, and Cervarix (about P3,100), by GlaxoSmithKline. They may be more affordable through organizations that distribute them in large volumes or through your company’s health providers.
Click here to learn more about the cervical cancer vaccine.