Wednesday, August 3, 2011


    Jakarta, Aug 3, 2011 (ANTARA) - A Dutch gynecologist has called cervical cancer (or cancer of the cervix)  a developing country disease because 80 percent of people suffering from the disease  live in developing nations.
         Prof A.P.M. Heintz warned the number of cervical cancer patients may reach 20 million by 2020 worldwide.

         "Seventy percent of them will live in countries where  only five percent of them have the money needed to treat the  cancer,"  Prof Heintz said in his scientific speech when receiving an honorary decree from the University of Indonesia in Depok, West Java, in July 2011.
          In Indonesia alone, about 270 thousand women die of cervical cancer annually.
          "According to data, every year about 500,000 women in Indonesia are  diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 270,000 of them eventually die," Titik Kuntari, the deputy dean of the medical faculty of the Indonesian Islamic University of Yogyakarta, said early this year.
         Cervical cancer in Indonesia is the number one killer among so many types of cancer, and the second most prevalent cancer among  women aged between 20 to 55 years old, she said.
         According to the 2007 data,  breast cancer reached 8,227 cases and cervical canter 5,786 cases  in Indonesia, Disease Control and Environmental Health Director General of the Ministry of Health Tjandra Yoga Aditama said last year.
          However, while the breast cancer incidence was  declining,  the number of cervical cancer cases was tending to increase as it was only 4,696 in 2006.
         The prevalence of tumor/cancer in Indonesia, according to the 2007 basic health research reached 4.3 per thousand people.
          Indonesia has set up breast and cervical cancer early detection pilot projects in Kebumen district, Pekalongan, and in Wonosbo, Central Java.
         Such pilot projects were also set up in Gresik, Trenggalek, Malang, Kediri (East Java), Karawang (West Java), Gunung Kidul (Yogyakarta), Gowa  (South Sulawesi and in Deli Serdang (North Sumatra).
          Women's lack of knowledge of cervical cancer worsened the condition of the sufferers and increased the number of cervical cancer cases every year.
          Titik said that based on surveys on 5,423 women in nine Asian countries, only two percent of them who knew that they had cervical cancer after they were infected with the human papiloma virus (HPV).
          "So, women are still lacking knowledge about the real causes of cervical cancer," she said.
           Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the major cause of cervical cancer and is passed on from person to another through sexual contact. Women who get cervical cancer have had past infections with HPV.
         Because the virus is passed on through sexual contact, therefore, men also have to be involved in efforts to prevent the infection of women by HPV.
         "Since this cancer is a sexual-viral related disease, both men and women have to get their vaccination and this is also our concern," Prof Sr Lex Peter, chairman of the International Female Cancer Program, said in Tabanan, Bali, several months ago.      
     He admitted the challenges of persuading men to be vaccinated against HPV. In the Netherlands itself, he said, it was still not so easy thing to do.
          Peters, also a gynecologist at Leiden University, the Netherlands, also did some research on the progress of cancer cells in woman's reproductive organs in the last decade.
         "We know that vaccine is a cure for this cancer causing virus. But the effectiveness is only 70 percent so far. It means that there is still a 30 percent failure rate and this may have been caused by many things. One of them is the woman's male partner," he said.
          Other thing that made eradicating HPV difficult was the fact that HPV does not need an animal host to multiply. HPV was a so-called "smart" virus capable mutating, he said.
       "HPV enters the human body through skin, particularly the soft tissue inside our body. It may change and affect many organs, from cervical cancer to malfunction of kidney or brain," he said. 
   Prof, Heintz suggested that the fight against cervical cancer must become a priority in  developing nations.
         "Cervical cancer theoretically can be prevented, while breast cancer, which has the highest incidence in the West, cannot," he said.
          A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer is available at the price of 400 US dollars per person, which is still too expensive for people in developing countries, according to him.
          Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, and therefore  prevention should be a top priority for all women. They need to adjust their lifestyle combined with medical care go a long way in preventing cervical cancer.
         To reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer, women are  advised among other things to  practice safe sex because HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus; limit the number of sexual partners for having multiple sexual partners increases the  risk of being infected with HPV; get a regular Pap smear that can detect abnormal cervical changes long before they become cancerous; and get HPV vaccination.
          Another simple step is by being a non-smoker because  smoking does not only affect the lungs, but also cervix. Studies show that smoking can speed up the process of cervical damage caused by HPV. ***4***

(T.F001/A/F001/A/O001) 03-08-2011 13:50:05

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