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Cervical Cancer Kills. But Prevention is in Your Hands.

Astique Clinic | 21 Mar 2014

Cervical cancer is cancer originating from the cervix. It occurs when normal cells in the cervix change into cancer cells. Cervical cancer is caused by a common virus known as human papillomavirus or HPV. There are little or no symptoms in the early stages of the cancer. In the late stages of the cancer, symptoms observed may be abnormal bleeding from vagina, pain during sex, smelly vagina discharge, new bleeding in post-menstrual women.

There are two ways in which one can get infected:

  1. Sexual Contact
    • Sexual intercourse
    • Genital-genital, oral-genital, manual-genital
    • Condoms may help reduce the risk, but do not provide full protection against infection
  2. Non-sexual Routes
    • Mother to newborn (vertical transmission)
    • Formites (e.g. Undergarments, surgical gloves, biopsy forceps)

There are a number of risk factors, mainly:

  1. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners
  2. Having had another sexually transmitted disease
  3. Having sex with a partner whose sexual history you don’t know
  4. Parity
  5. Becoming sexually active at a young age
  6. Oral Contraceptives
  7. Smoking

It is important to take note that all women who have a sexual relationship are at risk of HPV infection. Most infected individuals do not know that they are infected and may unknowingly spread the virus.

What is Cervical Cancer Vaccination (Cervarix) and how Effective is it?

Cervical cancer vaccination (Cervarix) lowers the likelihood of getting cervical cancer. However, the vaccination does not prevent you from all types of HPV virus or protect against any HPV infection you may already have. Therefore, it is important that you go for regular PAP smear examinations even if you are vaccinated.

The risk-benefit ratio for cervical cancer vaccination remains positive and cervical cancer vaccination is generally well tolerated. All vaccines have to undergo thorough clinical trials and monitoring before being approved for prescription. Currently after 8 years of evaluation, cervical cancer vaccination still proves to be working well and continues to offer protection.

What are the Characteristics of Cervarix?

Cervarix is currently approved for use in Singapore. The characteristics of the vaccine are shown in the table below.

  

Cervarix

Protect against HPV sub-types

16, 18

Vaccination schedule

0, 1 and 6 months, or as advised by your doctor

Approved indications

Prevention of cervical cancer

Approved age for use

Girls and women aged 10 to 25 years, or advised by your doctor

If I am Breastfeeding /Pregnant, can I still take the Vaccine?

Taking of the vaccine is not recommended as it is not known whether the vaccine antigens or antibodies are excreted in human milk. It is generally recommended that the vaccine be taken after delivery.

If I am already Sexually Active, will I still be Protected by the Vaccine?

Yes. Thousands of women in the clinical trials for vaccination were already sexually active and the vaccine prevented all the precancerous lesions caused by new infections with HPV 16/18. However, vaccination does not protect you against HPV infection you may already have.

I have had an Abnormal Smear Result in the Past, can I still be Vaccinated?

An abnormal PAP smear test result may or may not be due to an HPV infection. Even if you had an abnormal smear in the past caused by an HPV infection, you can still benefit from the protection the vaccine may offer.

Can Medisave be used to pay for the HPV Vaccination?

Yes, with effect from 1 November 2010, patients can use up to $400 per Medisave account per year under the Medisave400 scheme to pay for HPV vaccination. Patients can use their own Medisave or that of their immediate family members (e.g. parents or spouse) to help pay for the vaccination. The deductible and co-payment rules will not apply for HPV vaccinations.

 

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Astique. The Aesthetic Clinic
350 Orchard Road
#08-00 Shaw House
Singapore 238868

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