Cervical cancer

The cervix is at the end of the vaginal passage which leads to the neck of the uterus.The uterus is the part of the body where the fetus develops.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women in Malaysia. Over the last 40 years, effective screening with pap smears has reduced the death rate by 70%. Early detection and intervention have substantially reduced the incidence of invasive cervical cancer. A vaccination is now available to prevent the disease. Please contact NCICH's Patient Raletions Officer for more information.

Risk Factors Percentage of Risk
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Intercourse at an early age
  • Smoking
  • Compromised immune system
  • Sexual partners who are infected with HPV and /or have had multiple sexual partners
Overall increased risk.
In 2003, 12.9% of female cancers were made up of Cervical cancer. This means, on average 1 in approximately 57 women are at risk of developing the disease.
Age More prevalent among women who are 50 to 55 years old. However, risk increases between the late teens and mid-thirties.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection HPV can cause warts, or papillomas. Genital warts are caused by two HPV types, HPV 6 and HPV 11. These rarely develop into cancer and are called "low risk" viruses.
However, other sexually transmitted HPVs have been linked with genital or anal cancers in both men and women.
Two types of vaccinations are available. Please contact NCICH's Patients Relations Officer for more information.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection Increased susceptibility to HPV infections, which increase the risk of cervical cancer. In women with HIV infection, a cervical precancer might develop into an invasive cancer faster than it normally would.

Screening

Pap smear

The pap smear is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix and vagina. This test can show the presence of infection, inflammation, abnormal cells or cancer.

It is simple, quick, and painless. It can be done in a doctor's office, a clinic, or a hospital. While a woman lies on an exam table, the clinician inserts a speculum into her vagina to open it. To do the test, a sample of cells is taken from in and around the cervix with a wooden scraper or a small cervical brush or broom. The specimen (or smear) is placed on a glass slide or rinsed in liquid fixative and sent to a laboratory for examination.

Pelvic Examination

In a pelvic examination, the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum are felt for abnormalities in their shape or size. During a pelvic exam, an instrument called a speculum is inserted to widen the vagina so that the upper portion of the vagina and the cervix can be seen.

Pap smears and pelvic examinations are important in a woman's routine health care because they can detect abnormalities that may lead to invasive cancer. These abnormalities can be treated before cancer develops. Most invasive cancer of the cervix can be prevented if woman have pap smear and pelvic exams regularly. Also as with many types of cancers, cancer of the cervix is more likely to be treated successfully if it is detected early.

Recommendation

All women who are or have been sexually active, should have a pap smear and a physical examination regularly.

A woman should have this test when she is not menstruating, the best time is between 2 to 7 days after the completion of the menstrual period. For about 2 days before a pap smear, she should avoid sexual intercourse, douching, or using vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, cream, or jellies (except as directed by a physician). These may wash away or hide abnormal cells.

In some cases, a physician may simply describe pap smear results to a patient as 'abnormal'”. Cells on the surface of the cervix sometimes appear abnormal but are not cancerous. It is important to remember that abnormal conditions do not always become cancerous. A woman may want to ask her doctor for specific information about her pap smear result and what the results mean.

Additional Tests for Women with Abnormal Pap Test Results
A Colposcopy method of screening may follow an abnormal Pap smear result.