Cervical cancer is most common among Indian women after breast cancer, an expert said on Tuesday. Dr Neerja Bhatla, Head Of Department, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told a news agency that cervical cancer is the second most frequent cancer in Indian women. However, he stressed that it is preventable and curable if found early and effectively treated.
However in India, an estimated 123,907 new cases and 77,000 deaths are reported each year, or one woman dying every 8 minutes, she said.
“Cervical cancer is unique in that it can be prevented by vaccination and has a long precancerous stage during which women can be tested and treated without suffering undue discomfort, anxiety, or financial hardship,” she added.
The World Health Organisation has set goals to expedite progress toward elimination of cancer, and calls on countries to strive to reach the goals of vaccinating 90 per cent of girls with HPV vaccine by the age of 15, screening 70 per cent of women between the ages of 35 and 45 with a high-performance test such as the HPV test, and treating 90 per cent of women diagnosed with precancer or cancer, as well as facilitating palliative care, in the next decade.
However, the lack of awareness continues to be a key impediment to treatment participation and adherence. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already started a screening programme for the three most frequent cancers: oral, breast, and cervical cancer.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, AIIMS Delhi screened 100 women using high precision HPV test. WHO recommends using a test that gives same day results. This is the first time this strategy was tried at AIIMS using the GeneXpert platform that is also used for TB testing. It includes novel Point of Care HPV test and enabled Single Visit Screen and Treat approach. The report was available in only 60 minutes and based on the results, patients were offered treatment of precancer.