With the prevalence of cervical cancer in Singapore, women (and men) should learn about how to prevent cervical cancer. Certain types of Human Papilloma virus (HPV) can infect the cervix, vagina and vulva. In some cases, HPV infection leads to cervical cancer. In particular, HPV subtypes 16 and 18 causes about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Thus, limiting the transmission of HPV and getting vaccinated against HPV early, help to prevent cervical cancer. Most cancer organisations such as the Singapore Cancer Society recommend HPV vaccination for young adults, and regular Pap testing for women between 25 and 69.
HPV Vaccines in Singapore
There are currently two approved HPV vaccines in Singapore -Gardasil and Cervarix.
- Authorities recommend that Cervarix should be taken by females aged between 9 to 25. Those between nine to 14 require two doses of the HPV vaccine, 5 months to 13 months apart. Females between 15 to 25 require three doses. After the initial dose, the second dose should be 1 to 2.5 months later, and the final dose 5 to 12 months after the first dose. In Singapore, Cervarix is licensed for use in females only.
- Gardasil is available in two variants. The first known as Gardasil and the second Gardasil 9. Both vaccines are effective in preventing cervical and vaginal cancers. The vaccine age group is similar to Cervarix, and the vaccine course follows a more compressed timeline. According to information at Healthhub, Gardasil 9 provides protection against an additional 20% of cancer-causing HPV types, and is effective for both males and females.
HPV vaccines work best when the person has not been exposed to the HPV virus and before beginning sexual activities. HPV vaccination can be done at polyclinics or GP clinic. You should consult your doctor to find out more before going for your HPV vaccination.
Singaporeans can also use up to $500 per Medisave account per year to pay for HPV vaccination. Either their own or their immediate family member’s Medisave (e.g. parents or spouse) may be used to help pay for the vaccination.
Limiting HPV Exposure to Prevent Cervical Cancer
The transmission of HPV occurs by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected body part. This can happen during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. HPV infections may even spread from via hand-to-genital touch or via contaminated sex toys.
One can reduce HPV exposure, and hence prevent cervical cancer, through abstinence or limiting sexual relationships. The use of condoms can also offer some protection against HPV, though not as effective as for prevention of other forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia and HIV.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Regular Pap and HPV screenings are a proven method of preventing cervical cancer. A Pap test every three years, and a HPV test every five years are the best ways to detect cervical cancer early and enable treatment without undue delay.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.