MANILA(PNA)-- The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it will provide free cervical cancer screening for women for the whole month of May in DOH selected hospitals nationwide.
The screening is part of this year's commemoration of Cervical Cancer Consciousness Month with the theme Babae, Mahalaga Ka! Magpa-Screen... NOW Na! (Woman, You Are Priceless! Get Screened...At Once!).
According to DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial, the free screening will be done using the VIA (visual inspection using acetic acid) method for women aged 25 to 55 years old.
"With regular screening, women will know if there are changes in their cervix due to HPV (human papillomavirus).
HPV is an infection which may eventually progress into cancer if the genital warts do not go away and can become potential start of cervical cancer.
The screening aims to strengthen DOH commitment to protect more women from HPV-related cervical cancer and ease them from the physical, psychological and financial burden of this disease.
Meanwhile, as part of its plan to curb the burden of this preventable disease in the country, HPV immunization program will be expanded to include more provinces.
The expansion will mark the start of increasing the current number of beneficiaries (9-year-old Grade IV girls in public schools) of its free quadrivalent HPV vaccines � vaccine to protect them from the four strains of HPV.
"The tragedy of cervical cancer deaths is that this cancer is preventable and treatable," the Health Chief explained.
She added that in developed countries, cervical cancer is much less common because screening and vaccination are well established.
She also the agency plans to institutionalize HPV immunization and screening so that women will no longer die of cervical cancer.
These activities were also highlighted during the launch of the campaign at the Almendras Gym in Davao City.
The launching was made in partnership with non-government and private sector organizations such as the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society Foundation Inc., Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of the Philippines and Cervical Cancer Prevention Network.
The Health Chief further said since women are considered the "light" of every home and family, it is important to take care of their health and prevent them from dying due to cervical cancer.
Every year, more than 6,000 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer and the disease is usually detected late because the affected women may have no obvious early signs and symptoms.
The mortality rate of cervical cancer is high if detected late.
However, fewer than half of these patients are still alive 5 years after their diagnosis.
Usually, these patients are between 35 and 55 years of age - young women who are often breadwinners of their families as well as caretakers of children and elderly which then makes the effects of this cancer truly catastrophic.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among Filipino women
Source: Philippines News Agency