Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) has launched the Be Well campaign, which will continue throughout the month to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage women to have a Pap smear. The campaign also emphasises the importance of early screening.
QCS is holding awareness lectures and workshops involving various sectors in the countryto raise people’s awareness of the symptoms of the disease, the factors responsible for it, as well as methods of prevention and cure.
Cervical cancer is caused by abnormal growth of cells in the cervix (the lower part of uterus) and is the second most common cancer in women worldwide.It can affect any woman, mostly between the ages of 20’s and 50’s.Rahaf Wasafi, Health Education, stressed that the HPV (human papillomavirus)vaccine provides protection against the two major types of HPV virus that cause 70% of all cervical cancers and that regular Pap tests can prevent around 90% of cervical cancers. Cervical cancer is curable when diagnosed and treated early.
The major risk factors for HPV infection are smoking, recurrent cervical infections, family history of cervical cancer, having given birth to three or more children, using birth control pills for a long time.
The signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse. Cervical cancer can be prevented through Pap test, HPV test,HPV vaccine (starting from age of 15 years) , stopping smoking, eating healthy, being active .
The Pap test is a simple test which can be done by your doctor. The best time to do the test is 10-14 days after the first day of your period.
The examination procedure:
First Pap test: After 3 years of marriage and 21 years of age and older.
After first Pap test until the age of 65 years: Every 3 years,
After the age of 65: stop if the last 5 Pap tests are normal.
She noted that cervical cancer often does not cause symptoms until it is advanced, so it is important to start the early detection tests even when you feel healthy. In Qatar, you can have a Pap test in primary health care centers (women’s health clinic).