Did you know that cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipino women, with seven dying of the dreaded disease every single day? Did you know that two in three Filipinas diagnosed with cervical cancer may die within five years?
The statistics are alarming. Indeed, cervical cancer is a major problem in our society and it can potentially affect up to 80% of Filipino women regardless of race (mixed heritage), age, lifestyle or socio-economic status. It could be your friend, sister, aunt, wife, etc.
To address this problem, GSK Philippines launched the #PowerPout campaign on May 28, 2015, at the Makati Shangrila Hotel hosted by DJ Andi Manzano Reyes.
Ganzon also separates the myths and the facts about the disease.
- Only people who have casual sex get HPV
- Condoms can prevent HPV infection
- Cervical cancer has no symptoms
- Cervical cancer can not be prevented
- Only Promiscuous Women Get HPV
- A regular Pap test is enough to protect women against cervical cancer
Dr. Ganzon crushed all these myths by saying: “HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Sexual penetration is not necessary to pass on the virus. Any form of sexual intimacy like heavy petting or oral sex, can transmit HPV. The condom is not an effective protection. It merely covers the penile shaft. Most of the skin around the genitals of males and females come into contact anyway. HPV lives in epithelial cells in the skin.”
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Dr. Ganzon enumerated the symptoms of the disease:
- abnormal uterine bleeding or bleeding after sex
- pelvic and leg pain
- foul-smelling vaginal odor
- weight loss and bloody urine in the advanced stages
She added that a patient diagnosed with cervical cancer has a slim 20 percent chance of survival within five years.
Prevention and Treatment
Just like other life-threatening diseases, early detection and treatment can increase the patient’s survival by 80% Surgery is recommended in the early stage of cervical cancer, and chemotherapy and radiation for the advanced stages.
Lifestyle changes can help prevent the development of cervical cancer, such as being conscientious about one’s sexual activities. Beyond regular consultations and pap smears by your OB-GYN, vaccines that protect against cancer-causing HPV are also now readily available.
The World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) on Immunization reiterates the importance of getting young girls protected through HPV immunization before their first exposure to HPV, as young as 9 years old.
What about older women? The risk of persistent infection with cancer-causing HPV increases with age, and is highest when a woman is over 66 years old. Thus, screening is recommended starting age 21 to detect cervical abnormalities that precede actual cervical cancer. Vaccination remains to be recommended for older women to prevent new HPV infections.
Declaring the war against cervical cancer, leading pharmaceutical company GSK launched the #PowerPout campaign to boost its cervical cancer awareness efforts this year. The Power Over Cervical Cancer campaign urges Filipinas to realize that they are empowered—that they can do something to prevent the disease from happening to them, so they don’t miss out on a colorful life ahead or leave their loved ones behind.
VMV Hypoallergenics, in cooperation with GSK Philippines, released a purple lipstick line to help boost cervical cancer awareness and help women make a symbolic gesture with their power pouts. Leading the pledge for this advocacy are Dra. Ganzon, Ms. Avila, VMV’s Marie Cortez, and Mark Castillo, GSK associate product manager for HPV and hepatitis.
Female bloggers and journalists also pledged their support to this advocacy by putting their purple kiss mark on a white sheet of paper.
Also spotted during the event is TV journalist Ginger Cornejero, the spokesperson for cervical cancer awareness.
Rosali Anne “Gypsy” Avila survived breast and cervical cancer after 18 months of rigid cycles of chemotherapy. She pointed out that early detection is crucial in surviving this life-threatening disease.
Watch her testimony here:
You, too, can join this movement against cervical cancer. Take a photo of yourself wearing VMV Hypoallergenics’ Tutu or Chorus Line lipstick (or a photo of you holding your kiss mark from the lipstick) and post it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can track the development of this advocacy by checking out the hashtags #PowerPout and #PowerOverCervicalCancer on social media.