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Experts warn of the importance of cervical cancer prevention

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The month of March, in addition to International Women’s Day, also hosts the March Lilac campaign, which aims to raise awareness and encourage cervical cancer prevention. The data draws attention to the importance of taking care of the disease. According to the National Cancer Institute (Inca), cervical cancer is the third most common disease among women and the fourth cause of death among women in Brazil. Tribuna spoke to experts who clarified frequent doubts and warned about the importance of prevention.

For gynecologist and specialist in pathologies of the lower genital tract, Lucienne Lery, the main way to reduce this statistic is to invest in awareness campaigns. “People stop doing something very simple, which is a visit to the gynecologist once a year. There are three alternatives to protect against cancer of the cervix: the vaccine, the use of condoms during sexual intercourse and the annual preventive examination (vaginal smear), which are accessible to all women in the health system. Brazilian public”, she informs.

Lucienne is also a specialist in gynecological oncology and one of the heads of the gynecological oncology clinic of Ascomcer (Association of women for the prevention and fight against cancer of Juiz de Fora). According to hospital advice, currently, in Ascomcer alone, 75 patients are being treated for cervical cancer.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

According to the specialist, cervical cancer is often diagnosed asymptomatically. “The patient has no symptoms and will undergo a routine examination and find cancer.”

However, more advanced cases have symptoms, such as irregular vaginal bleeding outside of the menstrual period; vaginal bleeding after intercourse; and abdominal pain associated with urinary or intestinal disorders.

To diagnose the disease, it is necessary to carry out the preventive examination called vaginal smear, in which it is possible to identify precancerous lesions or the presence of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which can cause cancer in the future .

According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, the examination should be offered to women or to anyone with a cervix, between the ages of 25 and 64, who has already had sexual activity. The gynecologist recommends carrying out the preventive examination at least once a year.

prevention and treatment

The doctor and head of the oncology department at the University Hospital (HU), Alexandre Ferreira Oliveira, reinforces the strong chances of preventing the disease, which is highly traceable. According to Alexandre, the chances of recovery in the early stages are almost 100%.

Alexandre explains that surgeries are currently evolving to preserve women’s fertility. In cases where cancer is discovered at an early stage, the form of treatment is surgical, with a procedure called radical trachelectomy, which removes the tumor but preserves fertility.

At the most advanced stage of the disease, treatment is by radio and chemotherapy, with a chance of recovery in 60% to 70% of cases.

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Vaccination

Although cervical cancer affects women between the ages of 45 and 50, currently the number of cases among young women has increased. Doctor Lucienne Lery reports that the number of patients between the ages of 20 and 30 with advanced cancer has increased over the years. Therefore, this reinforces the importance of vaccination as a form of prevention.

“The vaccine confers immunity against HPV. If you have a contact, you will not catch the virus, the disease. The immunizing agent is important for both girls and boys, who transmit the disease. You avoid the transmission of cervical cancer to the woman by vaccinating the partner”, explains the gynecologist. However, she points out that no vaccine is 100%, therefore, even vaccinated, women should do the preventive examination.

In Juiz de Fora, the Ministry of Health informed Tribuna that all units that perform routine vaccination apply the HPV immunizing agent. The vaccine in the public health system is intended for girls aged 9 to 14 and boys aged 11 to 14. There are two doses with an interval of six months between them.

According to the Ministry of Health, in 2021, vaccination coverage reached approximately 35% of the target audience. “A lot of young people haven’t sought the vaccine yet.” For Alexandre, we need to have more effective campaigns to encourage the vaccination of adolescents. “The coverage rate is low due to a lack of awareness raising initiatives. There is a fear about the unfounded rumors that arise about the vaccine. I believe the work should start in the schools to change this reality,” he says.

service points

The Municipal Health Directorate has indicated that primary health care offers, through gynecological outpatient care, the so-called preventive cytopathological examination to diagnose lesions of the cervix, which can become cancerous.

The Department of Health for Women, Pregnant Women, Children and Adolescents, located in the center of the city, also performs the examination free of charge for patients who do not have a basic health unit in the district. where they live.

In cases where the preventive test presents alterations, the service offers additional examinations, such as colposcopy or biopsy. The users who carry out the service in the department, continue to carry out the follow-up on the spot.

If the result of the biopsy is positive for cervical cancer, the patient is referred for tertiary treatment of the SUS network, in hospitals qualified as high complexity oncological care units in Juiz de Fora. Among the institutes that provide care within the SUS network are Ascomcer, the Institute of Oncology and the Brazilian Institute of Management – IBG Saúde.

Estácio Nursing Practice

The unit performs preventive examinations for cervical and breast cancer (Photo: Disclosure / Estácio)

Additionally, the Centro Universitário Estácio Juiz de Fora Nursing Office offers free face-to-face care focused on women’s health. The unit performs cervical cancer screening (vaginal smears), as well as clinical breast examinations at night, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The coordinator of the nursing course, Luiza Vieira, explains that night care has been prioritized to help women who work during the day and cannot seek care during the opening hours of the basic health units.

To schedule the service, simply contact WhatsApp (32) 99161-1198 or visit the Estácio Juiz de Fora University Center, located at Avenida Presidente João Goulart 600, Bairro Cruzeiro do Sul.

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