Facts about HPV and Cervical Cancer

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Find out what is Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and how it is related to cervical cancer.

hpv, cervical cancer

What is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

  • HPV refers to the group of viruses called Human Papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer1.
  • There are over 100 different sub-types of HPV that are classified as high-risk (may cause cancer) and low risk (non-cancer causing)2.
  • It is transmitted during genital skin-to-skin sexual contact and very rarely, during delivery from the infected mother to the baby2.
  •  Most HPV infections occur without signs or symptoms and goes away on its own without any treatment2.
  • In some cases, the infection can persist and cause the cells to grow in an abnormal way. Some of these abnormal cells may develop into cervical cancer2.

How serious is HPV infection?

hpv, cervical cancer

  • Most cases of HPV infections are not widely reported. It is estimated that approximately 911 women in Singapore were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2008 and 20123.
  • There is no treatment available for HPV, but in about 90% of HPV infection cases, the virus clears by itself without any treatment2.
  • A regular pap smear can help to detect changes in the cervical cells caused by HPV infection2.
  • All women aged 25 and above who have ever had sex or are sexually active should have a Pap smear once every three years2.

Once your little girl enters the teenage years, you may be wondering whether she should get protection against cervical cancer.

In Singapore, HPV vaccines are approved for use in females aged 9 to 26 years old2.

hpv, cervical cancer

References:

1. WebMD; Cervical Cancer; Available from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-topic-overview; last viewed 16/4/14
2. Health Promotion Board; FAQs on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and HPV vaccination; Available from https://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/8768; last viewed 16/4/14
3. MOH website: https://www.nrdo.gov.sg/uploadedFiles/NRDO/Cancer_Trends_Report_08-12_website.pdf; last viewed 25/03/2014

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