Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) has launched an awareness campaign about cervical cancer and the importance of vaccination and screening in preventing the disease. January is usually observed as cervical cancer awareness month.
The second most common type of cancer and a leading cause of death among women in the UAE, most cases of cervical cancer are not detected until the later stages when it is difficult to treat, making early screening essential, according to a SEHA press release on Wednesday.
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) that spreads through sexual intercourse. There are many different types of HPV, some of which lead to cervical cancer. The pre-cancerous stage of cervical cancer is 100 percent treatable and can be detected through a pap smear.
SEHA’s healthcare facilities provide top-of-the-line screening services, including physician consultations, pap smears and HPV tests.
Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS) offers specialty services for women, encompassing preventive screenings for cervical cancer. AHS also provides comprehensive care including family medicine and obstetrics/gynecology services tailored to support and provide exceptional care to women of all ages.
Furthermore, it provides services that span the breadth of women’s health including planned pregnancy and family planning, additional preventive services for breast cancer screenings and consultations for gynecological heath such as sexually transmitted diseases, menopause and osteoporosis.
At Al Dhafra Hospitals, a program has been running since 2021 to follow up with patients who have undergone pap smears. Services include investigations in the event of incomplete/insufficient results or slight changes from previous findings.
Tawam Hospital is a cancer center of excellence and a leader in the treatment of the disease. It offers patients access to the latest technologies to diagnose, stage and monitor cancers backed by state-of-the-art pathological services.
One of the largest hospitals in the UAE, its oncology department focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It includes medical oncology such as the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy and other drugs plus radiation oncology and surgical oncology.
Dr. Alia Mohammed Al Dhaheri, Consultant Family Physician and Acting Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at AHS, said, “Every minute of the day, a woman somewhere in the world is diagnosed as having cervical cancer and over 300,000 die from the disease, which is highly preventable and treatable making these fatalities an even greater tragedy.
“Key to prevent cervical cancer is providing the HPV vaccination to girls at school from 13 to 14 years old and for women from 18 to 26 years old and who have never been immunized. It is recommended to get the HPV vaccine few years before marriage,” she pointed out.
Al Dhaheri continued to say that cervical cancer can be eliminated by early screening and treatment in women aged 25 to 65 years old. “At SEHA, we encourage our female patients to use our screening services. For women, whose medical insurance does not cover screening services, we offer carefully designed and affordable screening packages. We believe that access to these screenings is an absolute necessity for women.”
Dr. Mervat Mahmoud Muad, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist at Al Dhafra Hospitals, said, “Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the third leading cause of female deaths. To add to this, 85 percent of deaths caused by cervical cancer occur in developed countries.
“Most women who are diagnosed as suffering from cervical cancer have not had regular pap smears or have not followed up on abnormal results. It is imperative to note that it is one of the most preventable cancers provided that the proper HPV vaccination is carried out along with regular screenings to facilitate early detection followed by effective management.”