Cervical Cancer: Vaccinate, Prevent And Early Detection
Cervical cancer can be prevented with vaccination and early detection through screening tests to detect abnormal changes in the cervix, advises Prof Tay Sun Kuie, a Senior Consultant with Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Risk of cervical cancer
can be reduced by vaccination between the ages of 9-26 years.
What should I do to prevent cervical cancer?
Your life is in your hands. Depending on your age, you may take the following strategies to protect yourself against cervical cancer:
- In Singapore, HPV vaccines can be administered to females between 9 and 26 years old. A full vaccination includes three vaccine doses spread over a 6-month period. Vaccine efficacy is extremely high for women who have never been exposed to HPV-16 and HPV-18 infection and the protection is long-lasting.
More than two hundred million doses of vaccines have been administered to girls and women worldwide since 2006. Records have shown that the safety profile of these vaccines is very good. Development of vaccine-related severe medical adverse events is rare.
- HPV vaccination is currently available at restructured hospitals, polyclinics and private clinics.
- HPV vaccination is claimable through Medisave.
Cervical cancer/CIN screening
- The role of screening is to detect CIN and/or cervical cancer before they become an obvious disease.
- In 2013, SGH spearheaded a new screening program incorporating the Pap smear and HPV DNA testing for HPV-16, HPV-18 and 12 other cancer-inducing HPV strains. This new screening method combines the advantages of a Pap test and a HPV test in the same setting, and allows CIN to be detected early. It thus reduces the incidence of cervical cancer.
If a woman has a negative test, her risk for cervical cancer is extremely low in the next decade. She can confidently lengthen her screening interval to five years. This has been shown to be more cost-effective than conventional Pap smear screening alone.
- There are three possible outcomes of screening:
- No abnormality detected. Go for the next screening test in five years.
- Mild abnormality is present. Requires a follow-up test in one year.
- Abnormal results. This warrants further investigation with colposcopy.
Read on to learn about who should go for screening and the reasons why.