Medical practitioners shed light on the human papillomavirus (HPV) and its connection to cervical cancer.
The media roundtable discussion “Bridging HPV and Cancer: Why It Matters” brought together Dr. F. Xavier Bosch, Senior Consultant to the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program (CERP) at Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) Information Centre in Spain and Dr. Sybil Bravo, Obstetrician-Gynecologist Infectious Diseases Specialist and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines – College of Medicine and Philippine General Hospital.
Here are some facts I have (re)learned:
HPV is a common asymptomatic disease that is transmitted through genital contact or from mother to child at birth. There are more than 100 types of HPV strains and approximately 30-40 types affect the genital area.
HPV and Cervical Cancer
The most common HPV-related disease is cervical cancer. HPV types16 and 18 (70% of cases), 31, 45, 52, and 58 are the main causes. It is the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide and next to breast cancer as cause of death for Filipinas. Screening tests are readily available for early treatment or prevention but more than 6,000 Filipinas are still diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.
HPV infection also causes other kinds of cancers.
HPV strains 16, 18, 45, 52, 58, 31 and 33 are collectively known to cause 85-95% of anal, vulvar and vaginal cancers. Strain 16 also causes 35% of penile cancers. Meanwhile, strains 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases.
Cervical cancer is vaccine-preventable.
HPV vaccines have been available since 2006 but less than 5% of eligible Filipinas have availed it. Sadly, within five years from diagnosis, more than half of those women will die.
Three types of HPV vaccines
- The quadrivalent HPV vaccine is available in more than 130 countries globally and used for national immunization programs. This vaccine covers HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
- Bivalent vaccine covers HPV types 16 and 18 while nonavalent HPV vaccines covers nine HPV types. This includes the 7 most common high-risk types (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) and most common genital warts-causing types 6 and 11.
There is a brighter, HPV-free future.
The Department of Health (DOT), with support from multi-stakeholder groups, recently included quadrivalent HPV vaccine in its school-based national immunization program for young girls. Previously implemented through community-based approach, the program now spans to 56 provinces and cities across the country, aiming to vaccinate 720,000 beneficiaries this year.
Do not let stigma or fear keep you from learning and sharing the facts! To learn more about HPV, visit.