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Fully preventable, yet cervical cancer most common in India

New Delhi: Cervical cancer can be fully prevented if there is the required awareness. The tragedy, however, is that because of lack of knowledge and an it-cannot-happen-to-me attitude it is the most common kind of cancer in India today.

“It’s tragic that cervical cancer mostly hits the young population — young women, women with growing children — whose lives seem shattered after they come to know of it. But the most important thing to understand is that it is completely preventable and, therefore, all you need is awareness to protect yourself from it,” Dr Ranjana Sharma, senior consultant, obstetrician and gynaecology, at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, told IANS.

Cervical cancer occurs because of a viral infection caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

According to Dr A K Anand, director, radiation oncology, at Delhi’s Max Hospital, 20-25 women of every 100,000 suffer from cervical cancer in India.

“The incidence of cervical cancer is higher in rural areas than in metros. In metros, breast cancer is very common. Herpes is a cause for cervical cancer. Then again, bad local hygiene, too many children, not enough spacing between children, low nutrition levels and early marriage all contribute to the risk factors for this kind of cancer,” Dr Anand told IANS.

Dr Sharma added that because the awareness level in metros is considered to be higher than in smaller towns and villages, and people there have better access to resources, the number in metros is seen to be less.

“However, some women — no matter where they are — are more vulnerable than others. The high risk group includes girls who have had premature sex as teenagers, those who have had multiple pregnancies or multiple sex partners and don’t use contraceptives,” she said.

The symptoms to watch out for are post-coital bleeding; continuous, smelly vaginal discharge; bleeding between the menstrual cycle and irregular periods. In the more advanced stages, there could be back pain, bone pain or fractures, fatigue, loss of appetite, a single swollen leg and pelvic pain.

Doctors, however, say that it’s better to detect before the symptoms appear because in many cases, the symptoms don’t appear in the early stages. If detected in an early stage, the chances of managing it are greater.

“A Pap smear test, even if it’s done once a lifetime, can save you from cervical cancer. If you are in the reproductive age group, regular check-ups with your gynaecologist, even once a year, is a must,” Dr Anand said. Menopausal women are also not completely safe from cervical cancer, as seen in certain cases; hence it is always advisable to go for a check-up.

Vaccination against HPV at an early age is the best way to prevent the disease, doctors added. Not all types of HPV are carcinogenic, and HPV types 16 and 18 contribute to 70 per cent of the cervical cancer cases.

“There are two vaccines available and two more viruses common for warts. It’s important that a girl should ideally be vaccinated young, at the age of 12 or so, before she has any sexual contact,” Dr Sharma said.

“Having said that, all women are advised to go for this vaccine as it is not necessary that just because you are sexually active you would have contracted this virus. It covers the age group of 10-26, up to 46,” she added. [Source: IANS]

by Azera Parveen Rahman

One Comment

  1. Prof. Manoj Sharma Prof. Manoj Sharma Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    The role of Vaccine has been discussed in International and European Gynec Cancer Societies and it will be a long time before we conclude through the multicentric trials the usefulness of the vaccine.
    We need a hardcore data on Indian patients before we recommend it for the masses especially those who cannot afford it. The risks are higher due to certain populations of adolescents and adults resorting to quadruped sex and hence fear of transmission of new virus to human, different than HPV.

    It is very obvious that HPV vaccine propaganda is driven on two foundations.

    1- the corporate sector that now wants a rapid sale and profit through the sales of this vaccine even though they have not offered any cheaper marketing for a country like India. By far the vaccine is beyond the reach of that Indian population that is affected most by cancer of uterine cervix.

    2- The commotion in the Developed countries where pre-pubertal to pubertal to extra-marital sex is the life style and hence risk for the cervical cancers as so called safe sex with the help of barrier contraception has a very low compliance. and hence fears of rise in cervical cancers like it happened in post world war period in developed countries….the promiscuity factor .The promiscuity or rape factor in all its Indian version.Consensual or forced consensual or convinced consensual sex…..rape with agreement.

    Unfortunate part is that these commercial organisations fail to offer a cheaper version of cervical cancer prevention and that is by creating awareness of multitudes of causative ( etilogical) factors for cancer cervix and their prevention through advocacy of methods such as self examination of private parts, personal hygiene, barrier contraception ,improvement of Hemoglobin and nutritional status of female child through diet modulations and menstrual flow regulation , single child or double child norm( example of communist china and Kerala where success of forced or accepted family planning programmes have brought down the incidence of cervical cancers.)Improving literacy of child bearer population of society.

    Education and awareness of husband or partner and his concern and sensitivity towards her female partner whether feeling of lump in breast or obstruction or something different ” Inside” while lovemaking or immediate remedial measures to observation of consequences of love making suche as post coital bleeding is all that can get disease detected in curable stages. It has been prven time again in Wisconsin to Varanasi studies.

    Specialists sitting in IVORY towers like five star hospital should refrain themselves of making propositions that are not feasible in poor Indian population that still refuses to come in late stages. And if they are in Delhi they should comply to the orders of Honourable Supreme Court to treat poor patients free of cost in their edifices for which they were provided expensive land for a song.

    The Irony is that as per recently held workshop in AIIMS ICMR rep has admitted that the cervical cancer is the commonest Indian female cancer but those sitting in Ivory towers run after pink ribbon day to observe more of breast cancer awareness and prevention and refuse to observe National Day of Gynec Cancers , Gynec Cancers with all its vehemence of cervical, ovarian and endometreal cancers are the biggest challenge to both metropolitan and small town oncologist . Like Breast like endometreal like ovarian in metros!!! 11th March is National Day of Gynec Cancers well within International Women’s Week……..Any taker….Dr. Sharma or Dr. Anand???

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