Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Misconceptions about cervical cancer pose threat to women's health and lives

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite recent progress in promoting pap smears, many women in Taiwan still have dangerous misconceptions about cervical cancer that could cost lives, a new survey has revealed.

The survey, conducted by the Taiwan Cancer Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline, had 1,081 valid respondents. It found that only 25.8 percent of respondents correctly identified the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) as the cause of cervical cancer.

Only 32.4 percent understood the difference between an in situ and invasive cervical cancer.

The foundation said only 13 percent of women were aware that the early in-situ stage of cervical cancer is completely symptom free, and the only way to detect it at this stage is through testing.

"It's important to look for the cancer in individuals that are completely symptom free," said Lai Chi-ming (賴基銘), a doctor with the Taiwan Cancer Foundation.

"The survival rate from cervical cancer is practically 100 percent if the cancer can be treated while it is in situ," Lai said.

Lai said that while National Health Insurance only covers annual pap smears for those over the age of 30, women should start having annual pap smears as soon as they become sexually active.

Cervical cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among Taiwanese women, but it is only the fifth most deadly due to the progress that has been made promoting early detection.

Peng Wang Chia-kang (彭汪嘉康), vice chairman of the Formosa Cancer Foundation, "a lot of progress has been made, and now three-fifths of cervical cancer cases are treated in the pre-invasive phrase."

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