Cervical Cancer: Importance Of Early Detection And Treatment, From Oncologist
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer which usually occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus connecting the vagina. Predominantly, cervical cancer is a result of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
Cervical cancer: It is recommended to get a Pap test done from age 21
- Pap smear test can detect cervical cancer
- Get a pap smear test done once in three years
- HPV vaccine can help in preventing cervical cancer
Carcinoma of the uterine cervix, commonly known as cervical cancer, is a major health concern faced by women in India. Reports suggest that over 15.2% of the total cervical cancer deaths in the world are accounted by India with one women every eight minutes succumbing to this preventable and treatable disease . In India, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in females after breast cancer. Although the numbers reflect a grim reality, there are ways in which cervical cancer can be prevented and successfully treated when detected at an early stage. Building awareness about the HPV vaccine and encouraging regular screening with special emphasis on health and hygiene are important steps that need to be taken.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer which usually occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus connecting the vagina. Predominantly, cervical cancer is a result of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The HPV virus is responsible for causing cervical dysplasia or an abnormal growth of cervical cells.
Besides HPV infection, there are many other causes associated with the genesis of cervical cancer such as a weakened immune system, multiple sexual partners, smoking, long-term use of contraceptives, pregnancy at a young age or even multiple pregnancies. Statistics suggest that while 70% of sexually active adults are prone to contracting one of the myriad types of HPV infection, most of them are relatively easier to resolve with only 1% or less resulting in cancer.
Screening for cervical cancer
One of the first things to do to detect cervical cancer is to visit the clinic for routine screening tests and even get a vaccine to protect against HPV. There are two types of tests that can be conducted to help prevent cervical cancer or detect at an early stage.
The Pap test, also known as Pap smear: A Papanicolaou test or Pap smear directly tries to locate pre-cancerous cells or cell changes on the cervix that could progress to cervical cancer if not treated on time.
The HPV test: This shows presence of the human papillomavirus, which can cause a change in the cells and turn them into cancerous cells.
It is recommended to get a Pap test done from age 21. If the tests are normal, women can wait for three more years before they visit the clinic for a second test.
Cervical cancer: Early diagnosis is important
Cervical cancer, when left untreated, can lead to serious consequences. Hence, it is important to identify it early through the common symptoms and signs. These include abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding or even bleeding after sexual intercourse or menopause; unusual vaginal discharge, and pain during sex, pelvic pain unrelated to the menstrual cycle. As these symptoms could also be related to other health problems, it is always best to consult a doctor and gain a better insight on what is happening with your body.
Treatment of cervical cancer
The treatment of cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. Cervical cancer treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Depending on the gravity and severity of the carcinoma of the uterine cervix, a single or combined line of treatment is followed.
Prevention by HPV Vaccine
One of the proven ways to prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV. It is ideal to take the vaccination at an early age before any sexual contact. The vaccine covers an age group of 10 - 26 and can be given up to 46 years of age.
Cervical Cancer is preventable and curable. Let's nip it in the bud!
(Dr Richa Bansal, Consultant, Gynec Oncology and Robotic Surgery, Apollo Cancer Centres)
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