The Department of Health (DOH) considers cervical cancer as the second leading cancer among women in the Philippines. At least 12 Filipinas die from cervical cancer EVERY DAY even though it is a preventable disease.
HPV causes almost all cervical cancers, and the protection its vaccine provides from cervical cancer is long-lasting. But vaccinated women still need cervical cancer screening because the vaccine does not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer can also be treated through timely screening. According to the American Cancer Society, there is a 93 percent survival rate if cervical cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage. Take note that symptoms, such as abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, usually appear when the cancer is in its late stages. There is almost no symptom in its early stage.
Cervical cancer tends to grow slowly compared to other cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It can take 10 to 15 years (or more) for abnormal cells to turn into cancer." The speed would depend on your immune system and overall health. If your immune system is healthy and you eat right and don't smoke, your body can clear the HPV and reverse any cell damage at the start. But if you have an unhealthy lifestyle or have other health conditions, the cancer can develop faster. But generally, it does take about a decade.
Unlike ovarian or uterine cancer, cervical cancer can be detected early through routine Pap smear tests. Your doctor can see abonormal cell changes on the surface of your cervix. That's why it's important to get these tests regularly: every three years for women 21 to 65 years old. Your doctor should know how to proceed if he/she should find cancer cells.