Focus on cervical cancer Focus on cervical cancer

Taking precautionary measures at an early age and getting regular checkups are ways to help prevent this condition from developing.

 Advisor: Fernando Salas Márquez.
Gynecologist, oncologist and laparoscopist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the greatest risk factor to women developing cervical cancer, a cancer that occurs in the uterus (womb).

HPV is a group of over 100 strains of the virus, 13 of which are high-risk and can lead to this type of disease. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact (oral, anal or vaginal), which is why it is important to get regular screenings determined by age to prevent cancer from developing and detect warning signs. The methods for doing this include: getting an annual exam, pap smear and taking an HPV DNA test. According to gynecologist Fernando Salas Márquez, the HPV DNA test, “…is a method that is being tested in Colombia to increase the efficiency of the pap smear exam, leading to more accurate results.”

When the results of some of these tests show evidence of early stages of cancer, the patient can then receive less extreme treatment on time, which will prevent the affected cells from metastasizing. When a tumor metastasizes, this means that it spreads to other organs.

Vaccination

Girls between ages 9 and 13 should get the HPV vaccine. It is important that they receive the complete dosage.

21 years is the recommended age for getting your first HPV screening, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Warning signs

In its initial stages, cancer can be asymptomatic. Over time, however, it can lead to irregular vaginal bleeding; back, leg or pelvic pain; fatigue, weight loss or a loss of appetite.

6,7 of every 100,000 women die from this disease in Colombia, according to the National Cancer Observatory.

Preventative measures

Avoid tobacco use and having unprotected sex. Other risk factors include having multiple pregnancies, being HIV positive, having had more than one sexual partner and becoming sexually active at an early age.

30 years of ongoing preventive efforts for this type of cancer have reduced its incidence rates.

 

Sources: National Health Institute, Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Medline Plus and World Health Organization