HPV testing for Thai women key to cancer reduction

PHOTO: HPV screening is vital to prevent cervical cancer in Thai women. (via Yale School of Public Health)

Many Thai women are still not getting screened for HPV, despite the introduction of self-sampling swabs last year. An assistant professor and gynaecological oncology specialist at Chulabhorn Hospital said 80% of cervical cancers can be prevented if regular check-ups are performed. But many women still resist the screening, feeling uneasy with the testing process.

Last year the self-sampling test swabs were introduced last year as an alternative for women uncomfortable with HPV and cervical cancer screenings. The professor explained to a recent forum that self-sampling is better than nothing, but regular check-ups are still the best.

“Shyness, fear of medical stirrups and pain, fear of cancer detection, and fear of treatments lead to the failure to get regular checkups. Self-sampling is just an option for women who are shy or live in rural areas. A thorough examination by a doctor is still recommended.”

Self-sampling swabs can be used at home and sent to a hospital lab to get results, and are more effective than PAP smears, the doctor said. But older doctors, especially those in rural areas, tend to still rely on old-fashioned PAP smears.

Cervical cancer is the fifth most common cancer among Thai women, with the human papillomavirus (HPV) a major cause. Women with HPV are 35 times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

Doctors recommend that women should either get HPV DNA screening every five years or at least get vaccinated against HPV. Early treatment of cervical cancer can be the difference between life and death.

The doctor laid out the three main steps needed to work towards eliminating cervical cancer. He said women replacing PAP smears with proper HPV DNA screening performed on a regular basis was essential. Vaccination against HPV is another major factor in reducing cancer risk.

Finally, the doctor emphasized the importance of raising awareness about HPV to encourage people to seek testing and be responsible about their health.

The forum the gynaecological oncology specialist spoke at was organized by Roche Diagnostics Thailand at the Chulabhorn Oncology Medical Centre on Friday.


Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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