Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: A Preventable Death

The fact that all women are at the risk for cervical cancer, and is more for women over age 30.

Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening and Awareness among Women in India

Dr. RV Thenmozhi, Senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Medall Healthcare

The fact that all women are at the risk for cervical cancer, and is more for women over age 30. Most often, cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which gets passed on from one person to another during sexual intercourse.

HPV infections are so common that most people who have sexual intercourse get HPV at some point in their lives, most often, people with HPV will not have any symptoms and feel fine. Most HPV infections aren’t harmful at all and go away on their own. However if there is a prolonged infection which may lead to cause cervical cancer.

Is Cervical Cancer preventable? If yes, how and what needs to be done.

When cervical cancer is diagnosed in the pre-cancer stages or beginning phase of cancer it is exceptionally treatable and related to long endurance and healthy quality of life. The two most important things you can do to prevent/treat cervical cancer are to get the HPV vaccine and to be tested regularly.

While HPV vaccine helps in preventing the infection, PAP test helps in finding out the pre cancer changes in cervical cells.

HPV vaccination

  • The HPV vaccine protects against infection that most often causes cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
  • HPV vaccination is suggested for preteens matured 11-12years however can be given beginning at age 9.
  • The HPV vaccine is likewise suggested for everyone through age26, if not vaccinated already.
  • HPV vaccination is not suggested for everyone older than age 26 years. Nonetheless, some adults between 27-45 years who are not already inoculated may choose to get the vaccination subsequent to examining with their primary care physician about their risk for new HPV diseases and the potential advantages of inoculation. However, the advantages might be lesser, as they might have as of now been exposed to HPV.
  • If vaccination is started before age 15, a two-dose schedule is recommended with the doses given 6 to 12 months apart. For those who start the series after the 15th birthday series of three shots are given.
  • The vaccine can’t treat the existing infection, thus should be taken before exposure.

Screening tests

  • There are 2 screening tests that help in preventing cervical cancer.
  1. Pap smear test that detects cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. A Pap smear test can be done at the age of 21 years and if normal it can be repeated once every 3 years.
  2. HPV test perceives the infection that can cause these cell changes. An HPV test can be done at the age of 25 years and if normal it can be repeated once every 5 years.
  • If you are 30 to 65 years old, your doctor will suggest one of the following options.
  1. Pap test only, if normal repeated after 3 years
  2. HPV test only, if normal repeated after 5 years
  3. HPV test along with Pap test, if both normal repeated after 5 years.
  4. If you are older than 65, you may not need screening if you have had normal screening tests for several years or had your uterus and cervix removed.
  • If the test result detects an abnormality, your doctor may recommend further tests to determine the treatment
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