Marie Surbano, a former colleague succumbed to cervical cancer yesterday. She died one year after she was diagnosed with the killer disease. Marie reportedly underwent a traditional treatment for cancer, but did not make it. She was 36.
I learned about her death through a Facebook status posted by another colleague. Our common friend, Shiela (of the Philippine Star), called up a while ago informing me the place where the wake is being held. I hope to see Marie for the last time…
Quick information about cervical cancer:
Incidence, Mortality and Survival
Cervix cancer is the 5th leading site for both sexes combined, and the second among women. In 2005, an estimated 7,277 new cases and 3,807 deaths will occur. In the Philippines, median survival is 76 months. Incidence starts rising steeply at 35.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Cancer of the cervix is highly preventable. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the virus that cause chronic infection of the cervix. The virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse, and the more numerous the sexual partners of the woman, or the woman’s male partner, the greater the risk of being exposed to the virus.
Safe sex, including the use of barrier protective devices such as condoms, offers the best prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. A vaccine against HPV is already available.
Irregular painless bleeding not associated with menstruation — intermenstrual, postcoital, post-douching, or postmenopausal. Unusual vaginal discharge is also common.
A highly effective screening method for the early detection of cervix cancer is the Papanicolau smear (Pap smear). This is essentially a microscopic examination of cells from the cervix and body of the uterus. It is recommended that for the average risk female, a Pap smear should be done every 5 years after an initial test starting at age 30.
With the use of Pap smear, lesions that eventually lead to cancer can be detected. These can be then diagnosed and removed thereby preventing full blown cervix cancer. For early cervix cancer, either surgery or radiotherapy can be curative. Advanced cervix cancer requires judicious and cost-effective palliative care.
Source of information: 2005 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates