Cervical cancer, a disease in which malignant cells form in the cervix, is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Although a screening programme using the Pap smear test has decreased the number of cases and deaths over the past 20 years, many women still develop cervical cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute (Thailand), cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in this country. It is estimated that there are almost 10,000 new cases each year, and almost 14 women die of this cancer each day.
Cervical cancer usually develops quite slowly over time. The cells of the cervix go through a series of changes to become abnormal, a process called dysplasia. It may go away without treatment, but if dysplasia persists and is left untreated the cells may become cancerous. Although symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge should alert most women that they need to consult a gynaecologist, early abnormal cellular changes can occur without any symptoms and may not be noticed until they become more severe.