Friday, April 18, 2014

HPV Vaccination Against Cervical Cancer - Do or Don't?

To all my female readers, here's a question for you to consider.

If you know that there is a vaccination that can protect you and the important women in your life against cancer, would you take it? Or would you risk it and think that "it won't happen to me"?


I'm touching on a serious topic in my post today. Something I know I can take charge of especially for the sake of my daughter - because as her mother, I want to protect her in every way possible, for as long as I can.

Photo taken at the "Protect to Tell" - Cervical Cancer Awareness talk, held exclusively for female bloggers. Participants were invited to draw on balloons on what we like/love to do and with a short message about anything to anyone. My balloon captured the attention of the host, Shandy, during the talk.

We had two distinguished speakers at the talk -
A/Prof Anne Goh, President of Singapore Pediatric Society and
Prof Tay Sun Kuie, Senior Consultant for SGH's depart of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus or HPV for short, is a common virus that can infect different parts of a body. It can cause warts on limbs or at the genitals, though most of the HPV infections are not cancerous. However, 15 out of the 130 different types of HPV strains causes cancer in the cervix, along the passage between the vagina and uterus. The great news is, getting yourself and your loved ones vaccinated against these HPV strains early, will prevent and reduce the risk of developing pre-cancers and cervical cancer. 

Statistics in Singapore show that the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased tremendously. While this is an awesome data, there are still many women out there who are at risk - the young, the old, the beautiful, the healthy, the sporty, the rich, the poor. Regardless of our status, all women are not spared. Early cervical cancer has no signs or symptoms.

Statistics have also shown that women who take charge of their lives by going for regular pap smear screenings, play a critical role in detecting any changes in cervical cells. Though pap smear tests may turn out normal for many of us, it is still not enough to protect us from cervical cancer. Did you know, women can still be infected with the virus from having just one partner?  It is so important to have a pap smear test done once in every 3 years. Or even yearly if we are able to commit financially.

Of all the information that I have gathered during the talk, my biggest question was :

WHY must this vaccination be introduced to adolescents, as young as 9 years of age?

I have only one daughter and naturally, this has been a nagging question in my mind ever since I knew the vaccine exists. Thanks to the internet, there are many articles I've read pertaining to this vaccine. Some raved about the while others vehemently slam it. Which should I believe?

I learned that the best time to vaccinate is prior to sexual debut. Studies have shown that this is a very tolerant vaccine and it's immune response is stronger when young. There is no known side effects of the vaccine, other than the possible mild fever, fatique or site pain from the injection. (It is just like the vaccinations our children obtain during infancy or booster jabs at primary school.) There is no known causes of interference with adolescent development.

For now, the decision to go for HPV vaccination is based on informed choice. So I think it is very important that we, as educated parents, make the decision for our daughters to be vaccinated against this dreadful disease as soon as possible. As much as we want to educate the young from promiscuity at an early age, it is a fact that youngsters these days, start relationships earlier. Having this vaccination is not to encourage them to engage in sexual activity. The main goal is to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Prevention is definitely better than cure.


Ladies, we all can play a part and make a difference! 
Take charge of your lives, your daughters' lives or give a friendly reminder to your loved ones and friends around you.
  • Singapore Cancer Society provides free pap smear screening to ladies above 25 years old to prevent cervical cancer. Call 6221 9578 or email cancerscreening@singaporecancersociety.org.sg for more information.
  • HPV vaccinations are available at polyclinics or speak to your family doctor about it. This vaccination is subsidized by Medisave for females aged between 9-26 years.
Or visit the Health Promotion Board site for more information on cervical cancer.


Till the next post, stay safe and healthy. 
 
Have a blessed week!

Disclaimer : Protect to Tell – Cervical Cancer Awareness” on 12th April 2014 Sat (the “Event”) was held as a lunch session, organized and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd. The Accidental Mom Blogger was not paid for participating in the Event. All personal views expressed here are entirely my own.

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