In India Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women after Breast cancer , with incidence rate of 18.3%(123,907 cases every year) and leading cause of death among women with death rate of 9.1% as per GLOBOCON 2020. It is the most treatable cancer if diagnosed early. Yet it’s mortality is high because of hesitancy ,lack of awareness among women and restricted access to medical services.
CAUSE: When there is an uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body, cancer occurs. If it occurs in the opening or mouth of uterus, it is called as cervical cancer. In 99% of cases Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been found to be the causative agent. It is sexually transmitted to the cervix. There are around 100 types of HPVS out of which 16, 18 are notorious to cause cervical cancer. Most of the times the virus clears off by itself, but in small percentage(1-2%) of people it persists to cause cancer.
SCREENING: HPV takes a lot of time (8-10 yrs) to convert normal cervical cells to abnormal cancer cells. So during this time some tests are available to see any abnormality in the cervix which may convert to cancer. Most commonly used tests are
PAP SMEAR: Wherein a smear is taken from the cervix and looked for any abnormality. It is to be started at 30 yrs of age or 3 yrs after sexual activity starts till 65 yrs of age.
HPV DNA: It is done similar to pap smear but it looks for the HPVirus DNA.
It is started at 35 yrs of age either alone or with papsmear every 5 yrs till 65 yrs of age.
If any abnormality is detected in these tests then your gynecologists will recommend you to get a biopsy done.
SYMPTOMS: Bleeding between periods
Bleeding after intercourse
Fowl smelling vaginal discharge
Post menopausal bleeding
If any of these symptoms persist even after treatment you need to consult your gynecologist for further investigations and management.
PREVENTION: By regular PAPSMEARS
HPV VACCINES to the girl child between age 11 to 25 yr or at least before she gets married.
Decreasing the risk factors such as smoking and following safe sex practices.
DIAGNOSIS: When biopsy confirms cancer further investigations such as CT, MRI, PET-CT are done to see the extent of the disease.
Treatment: If diagnosed in early stage can be treated with SURGERY wherein uterus is removed along with a safe margin. In advanced stages RADIATION and CHEMOTHERAPY have a role.
September is a gynecological cancer awareness month. Ending
Cervical cancer is within our reach by awareness, education, screening
and vaccination. Consult our doctors at MEDICOVER ,MVP for your
annual checkups, screening programs and vaccinations.