Cervical Cancer is the second most common malignancy occurring in women in the Philippines after Breast Cancer. Nicknamed as the ‘silent killer‘ because its symptoms do not appear until it reaches an advanced stage, it is estimated that 11 FILIPINO WOMEN DIE due to this disease EACH DAY.
Why Cervical Cancer?
Among all the different types of cancer, cervical cancer is the ONLY one that can be prevented in more than 99.7 percent of cases. The cause is due to a persistent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that offers no symptoms. Aside from Cervical Cancer, HPV causes:
- Anal Cancer in 91% of cases,
- Vaginal Cancer in 75% of cases,
- Oropharyngeal Cancer n 72% of cases,
- Vulvar Cancer n 69% of cases,
- Penile Cancer in 63%, of cases.
There is NO known treatment for HPV Infection. Prevention remains our BEST option. The HPV vaccination is advocated in both sexes ages 9 to 15 years ideally, up to 26 years of age if without a history of sexual intercourse and a negative HPV test. We cannot immunize everyone. With a population of 31 Million Filipinos between 9 and 25 years of age, multiplied by the cost of vaccine assuming each can be purchased at Php 3,000 each, given for 3 doses sums to 93 Billion. What then?
Cervical Cancer Screening is our second-best option. Besides its the one thing, you can offer to prevent Cervical Cancer to women age 21 and above.
Why so many deaths despite being a preventable disease?
Based on a University of the Philippines – Department of Health Cervical Cancer Screening Study Group, they identified four screening failures that led to a high incidence of Cervical Cancer in the Philippines as follows:
- The lack of patient knowledge about symptoms associated with cervical cancer;
- A fatalistic attitude of Filipino women towards cancer and the lack of awareness that cervical cancer is curable;
- The lack of screening facilities and expertise and treatment facilities in rural areas and;
- Lack of patient compliance with follow-up and treatment.
Additionally could be the fact that Pap Smear is costly and requires a second visit to the doctor to get results.
How Can We Help?
The above study, in essence, can be further summarized to point out one problem, that is, the lack of medical specialists and screening facilities in the rural areas. Unfortunately, we cannot mandate specialist doctors to practice medicine in the countryside and prevent them from their economic right to earn for their kids’ future. So how do we then solve this issue?
Through advances in technology, we now have an effective and affordable solution in our hands. CerviQ is a mobile application that enables non-physician professionals, e.g. midwives, nurses, to conduct cervical cancer screening using VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) anywhere in the country as long as there is the Internet. The medical application is connected to a medical specialist who interprets the data in real-time. Doctors can even prescribe antibiotics, or refer a patient for further workup, or recommend treatment using the medical application. By the touch of a button, results, prescriptions, referrals or recommendations can be received by the midwife or nurse, to be printed and given to the patient.
If we can bring CerviQ into every barangay health center in the country, we have helped make screening conveniently accessible and available to all women, practically performed at any reasonable time of the day, anywhere and everywhere.
Just by sharing this article and speaking of it to your organizations, family and friends, and leaders within your community, you have contributed already toward a CERVICAL CANCER FREE PHILIPPINES.
The author would like to extend his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Inspiring President of the Rotary Club of Chinatown Circle Michael Roy Soliman.