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January - Cervical cancer awareness month

  • January 03, 2022
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Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cells of the cervix, which connects the uterus to the vagina. It's caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that's usually spread through sexual contact.

The immune system of the body prevents the HPV virus from causing serious harm. But, the virus can live for many years and, in some women, can cause cervix cells to become cancerous. Cervical cancer accounts for a sizable proportion of all cancer cases in women in India.

Cervical cancer concerns in India

As per a research paper published in The Lancet Global Health in 2018, with 60,078 deaths and 96,922 new cases in 2018, India accounts for nearly one-fourth of the world's cervical cancer deaths. Cervical cancer accounts for 16.5 per cent of all cancer cases in Indian women and is the country's second most common type of cancer among women after breast cancer.

It is estimated that approximately 160 million women between the ages of 30 and 59 are at risk of developing cervical cancer, with 96,922 new cases registered in 2018.

Signs and symptoms:

 

Many people are still unaware of the risks and signs of cervical cancer. If a woman is completely unaware she might not get treatment in time and this leads to death. There is a large gap between awareness and treatment in many countries like India.

The symptoms of cervical cancer include:

→ Abnormal bleeding from the vagina that happens between menstrual periods or after intercourse, or after menopause

→ Vaginal discharge that is abnormal in colour or odor and/or is accompanied by pain or itching

→ Bleeding after menopause

→ Post-menopausal bleeding when hormone replacement therapy has been used

→ Persistent pelvic pain (painful intercourse, abdominal

Prevention is the key

PAP test

The PAP test is abbreviated of the Papanicolaou test. It is a screening test for women to detect precancerous lesions and cancer cells in the cervix (opening of the uterus or womb).

It is not a method of diagnosing cancer, but a method of screening seemingly healthy and symptom-free women to identify those who require further investigation to determine whether they have malignancy.

Early detection

The WHO's main goal is to eradicate cervical cancer by 2030 by vaccinating 90% of girls by the age of 15, screening 70% of women by the age of 35, and screening them again at 45, among other measures.

Cervical cancer can be defeated by raising awareness, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and detecting it early. One must also follow healthy habits by including healthy nutrients in one's diet.