Published on 30 August 2022

    Are you up-to-date with your gynaecologic screening? Regular screening and seeing a doctor for unusual symptoms such as pain and bleeding can make a difference in the early detection of conditions and cancers affecting the female reproductive organs.

    “Womb cancer or uterine cancer is the most common gynaecologic cancer diagnosed in Singapore,” said Dr Pearl Tong, Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS). It is also known as endometrial cancer, which occurs in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. Dr Tong also mentioned, “Ovarian cancer and cervical cancer are at the fifth and tenth spots respectively, accounting for 4.9% and 2.8% of all new cancers diagnosed in females.”

    Keep an eye out for... Havingone or more of these symptoms doesn't mean you have cancer..But if they last two weeks or longer, see your doctor for a checkup.. Apart from being aware of symptoms, it is helpful to know your risk factorsfor these cancers. For instance: This understanding of symptoms and risk factors, will help youmake an informed decision on seeking advice based on your risk(including the feasibility of genetics counselling and testing). Uterus Endometrium Cervix Ovary Fimbriae FallopianTube(Oviduct) Vagina Abnormal vaginal bleeding ordischarge aftermenopause orin between Pain in the pelvis orabdominal area Feeling full quickly ortrouble eating Unexplained bloating, abdominal orback pain A more    frequentand urgent need to urinate and/orconstipation Sudden and unexplained weight loss Constant fatigue Changes in appetite and/ordigestion Cervical cancer is caused by prior exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) Smokingincreases the risk of cervical cancer A family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer is associated with a higher risk of ovarian cancer Use of hormone treatmentis linked to higher risk of uterine cancer Obesityincreases the risk of uterine cancer ScreeningScreening saves lives and for cervical cancer, this is certainly true. As Dr Lim Li Min, Associate Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, National University Hospital and Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, NCIS, pointed out, “Regular screening has been shown to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer as well as deaths from the disease.” Screening for cervical cancer involves a PAP smear, where a sample of cells are taken from the cervix and studied for changes over time, which helps to spot pre-cancer. It is recommended at three-yearly intervals for women aged between 25 to 29 years old. For women who are 30 to 69 years old, a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended at five-yearly intervals.In addition to screening for cancer, Dr Lim also pointed out another effective tool in tackling cervical cancer: the HPV vaccine. “Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by certain high-risk strains of HPV,” she explained, “The advent of HPV vaccination makes cervical cancer the only preventable cancer. The vaccine has shown strong efficacy in preventing pre-cancers and cancers of the cervix as well as other organs such as the vulva, vagina, anus and oropharynx.”In Singapore, three types of HPV vaccines currently available: Together, screening and vaccination will help bring down the numbers of cervical cancer. Dr Lim emphasised, “All vaccinated women should continue to attend regular cervical cancer screening as none of the vaccines afford 100% prevention against cervical cancer.” HPV vaccine type Cervarix (2-valent vaccine)Gardasil (4-valent vaccine)Gardasil 9(9-valent vaccine) Prevents 70% of cervical cancer70% of cervical cancer and genital warts90% of cervical cancer and genital warts Regime 2 to 3 doses, depending on age range Recommended for Males and females between 9 to 26 yearsMales and females between 9 to 45 years Uterine CancerAlso known as womb/endometrial cancer, this cancer occurs in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus Ovarian CancerCell mutations lead to abnormal growths in one/both hormone and egg-producing organs located at either side of the uterus Cervical Cancer The cancer affects the cervix, the the neck of the womb that connects the uterus to the vagina 4thmost commoncancer affecting women Affects    7.2% of women 5thmost commoncancer affecting women Affects 4.9%of women 10thmost common cancer affecting women Affects 2.8% of women Gynaecologic Cancers WATCH FORTHE DANGER SIGNS You knowyour body best. Ifyou experiencepersistentgynaecologic symptoms that do not respond orgetworse despite treatment,take a proactive step to  seek help.

    In consultation with Dr Pearl Tong, Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, NCIS and Dr Lim Li Min, Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, NUH and Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, NCIS.

    Download the full infographics here.

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