SHAH ALAM, March 13 — The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, to prevent cervical cancer, should be taken three times in a lifetime, in sequence within a year, to contain the third major cancer faced by women in Malaysia.
Avisena Women’s and Children’s Specialist Hospital (AWCSH) consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Raja Arif Shah Raja Ismail, said the vaccine, introduced in 2010 by the government for 13-year-old schoolchildren, was one of the methods to reduce cervical cancer by up to 70 per cent if every woman took the vaccine.
“We can reduce the rate of cervical cancer by 60 to 70 per cent if we promote the HPV vaccination for all women.
“We have seen that taking vaccines is effective and important, such as to contain Covid-19 where now we can return to the previous way of life even in the new norms. The situation is also similar to taking HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer,” he said.
He said this after the ‘Bual Bicara Bersama Pakar Avisena Specialist Hospital’ slot, held in conjunction with the Shah Alam Vehicle Free Day programme, themed International Women’s Day, at Dataran Kemerdekaan, here.
The talk discussed two topics related to women, namely ‘Cervical Cancer and HPV’ and ‘Breast Cancer – What You Need to Know’, by two cancer specialists from Avisena Specialist Hospital, where free health check-ups were also held to check blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels.
Also present were Avisena Group chief executive officer, Elina Nadia Omar; Avisena Group chief operating officer, Mazidah Umar and AWCSH chief executive officer, Siti Tettie Hidayati Mohyi. Raja Arif Shah added that the 80 causes of the cancer were due to the HPV virus as well as being carried by partners (men), lifestyle such as smoking and also heredity.
He added that his team also encouraged women, especially those aged 18 and above, to take the vaccine, especially individuals who missed getting the injection at the school level. It can be taken at private clinics, specialist hospitals, and AWCSH.
On breast cancer, Avisena Breast and Endocrine Surgeon Dr Sarinah Basro said that the public needed to strengthen breast cancer prevention since there was already a wealth of information provided.
“People need empowerment from all parties so that they take note. Information on breast cancer is everywhere and their understanding should be in line with age in identifying the risk of cancer themselves,” she said.
Sarinah explained that self-awareness should be there for a woman aged 40 and above for action at an early stage.
“If you are over 40 years old, we recommend a mammogram test depending on your cancer risk. If there is a history of breast cancer in the mother and siblings, they should do tests every year,” she said.
Sarinah said women themselves could do a brief test by regularly checking around the breasts after the menstrual cycle to be aware of any abnormalities in their bodies.