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...
H a vi n g on e or more of these symptoms doesn't mean you have cancer. . B ut i f 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 factors for these cancers. For instance:
This understanding of symptoms and risk factors, will help you make an informed decision on seeking advice based on your risk (including the feasibility of genetics counselling and testing).
U t erus
E ndom e trium
O v ary Fimbriae
F allopian T ube ( Oviduct)
A bnormal v aginal bleeding o r discha r g e a f t e r menopause o r in b e t w een
P ain in the pelvis o r abdominal a r ea
F eeling full quickl y or t r ouble e a ting
U n e xplained blo a ting, abdominal o r back pain
A more frequent and u r g e n t need t o urin a t e and/o r c onstip a tion
S udden and un e xplained w eig h t loss
C onsta n t f a tigue
Chan g es in app e ti t e and / o r di g estion
Cervical cancer is caused by prior exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV)
Smoking increases 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 treatment is linked to higher risk of uterine cancer
Obesity increases the risk of uterine cancer
Screening Screening saves lives and for cervical cancer, this is certainly true. As Dr Lim Li , Associate Consultant, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, Department of Min 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 cancer 70% of cervical cancer and genital warts 90% of cervical cancer and genital warts Regime
2 to 3 doses, depending on age range Recommended for
Males and females between 9 to 26 years Males and females between 9 to 45 years
Uterine Cancer Also known as womb/ endometrial cancer, this cancer occurs in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus
Ovarian Cancer Cell 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
4 th most common cancer affecting women
Affects 7.2% of women
5 th most common cancer affecting women
Affects 4.9% of women
10 th most common cancer affecting women
Affects 2.8% of women
G ynae c ol o gic Ca n c ers
W A T CH F OR THE D ANGER SIGNS
Y ou kn o w y our body best. I f y ou e xperien c e persis t e n t gynae c ol o gic s ym p t oms th a t do n o t r espond o r g e t w orse despi t e t r e a tme n t, 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.