MAKATI CITY, PHILIPPINES—Every woman is at risk. Cervical cancer is a major problem for Filipino women: it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinas, with seven dying of the dreaded disease every single day.[i] What’s more worrying is that two in three Filipinas diagnosed with cervical cancer may die within five years.[ii] Cervical cancer is a risk for women regardless of race, age, lifestyle or socio-economic status.[iii]
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop and spread in the cervix, the entrance between the vagina and the uterus.[iv]
The human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common virus, is the necessary cause of cervical cancer. It has been shown that 99.7 percent of cervical cancer patients are positive for HPV infection.[v] It is also estimated that up to 80 percent of women will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives.[vi]
While HPV is primarily transmitted via sexual intercourse, skin-to-skin genital contact is also a recognized mode of transmission.[vii],[viii],[ix] 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.
A risk regardless of age
Based on a study of 307 women in Ontario, the incidence of cancer-causing HPV infection is actually highest at the young ages of 15-19.[x] 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 (i.e. before sexual contact), as young as 9 years old.[xi],[xii]
What about older women? The risk of persistent infection with cancer-causing HPV (which is necessary for cervical cancer to develop) increases with age, and is highest when a woman is over 66 years old.[xiii] Thus, screening is recommended starting age 21 to detect cervical abnormalities that precede actual cervical cancer.[xiv] Vaccination remains to be recommended for older women to prevent new HPV infections.
Power Over Cervical Cancer
Leading research-based pharmaceutical company GSK continues to ramp up its cervical cancer awareness efforts this year with the patient—the woman—always in mind. In the Philippines, 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.
Purple lips against cervical cancer
In commemoration of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, GSK Philippines launched its partnership with cosmetics manufacturer VMV Hypoallergenics at a press event entitled Put On Your Power Pout!, held last May 28th at Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The partnership introduces a twist on spreading awareness: encouraging women to join the movement by wearing purple lipstick to show their support for the advocacy on cervical cancer prevention.
“Cancer is quite a distant concept for women who are well. What might be more important to them is keeping up with the latest trends, especially in fashion and beauty. The lipstick is a woman’s own—when she wears it, she makes a statement about herself. Through this partnership with VMV, we hope to drive women to make a statement against cervical cancer,” says Mark Castillo, GSK product manager.
Jacklyn Remo, assistant marketing manager for VMV Hypoallergenics, supports the movement: “We are fully committed toward this partnership with GSK Philippines. At VMV Hypoallergenics, we promise the safest, most proven effective care on the planet—and that extends to beauty. This unique combination of science, wellness and beauty means we also strongly stand for advocacies that help women, their health and happiness.”
JOIN THE MOVEMENT NOW—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 and Facebook with the hashtags #PowerPout and #PowerOverCervicalCancer!
A health service message brought to you by GSK. For further information on cervical cancer, please consult your doctor.
[i] WHO/ICO Information Center on HPV and Cervical Cancer (HPV Information Centre). Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report – Philippines. 2014.
[ii] Philippine Cancer Facts Estimtes. 2010.
[iii] Burd EM. Clin Microbial Rev 2003; 16:1-17.
[iv] National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/ . “General Information About Cervical Cancer” http://www.cancer.gove/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/cervical/Patient/page1.
[v] Bosch FX et al. The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. J Clin Pathol 2002;55:244-65.
[vi] Bosch FX, de Sanjose S. Chapter 1: Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer-burden and assessment of causality. J Natl Cancer Inst Managr.
[vii] Antonsson A et al. J Clin Microbial 2003; 41:2509-14.
[viii] Winer RL et al. Am J Epidemiol 2003; 157:218-26.
[ix] Fairley CK et al. Epidemiol.Infect 1995; 115:169 76.
[x] Sellors JW et al. CMAJ 2003; 168:421-5.
[xi]WHO. Weekly epidemiological record no. 21 (23 May 2014). Available at http://www.who/int/wer. Accessed 19 September 2014.
[xii] WHO. Summary of the SAGE April 2014 meeting. Available at http://www.who.int/immunization/sage/meetings/2014/april/report_summary_april_2014/en/. Accessed 21 September 2014.
[xiii] Adapted from Castle P et al. JID. 2005; 191: 1808-16.
[xiv] National Cancer Institute. Pap and HPV Testing. Available at http://www.cancer.gov/types/cervical/pap-hpv-testing-fact-sheet. Accessed 21 May 2015.