BANGALORE: Going by the recent figures by Globocan 2008, a software prepared by the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), one woman dies every seven minutes due to cervical cancer in India. This fact was also substantiated by the Hospital Based Cancer Registeries (HBCRs) in a review article titled 'The magnitude of cervix in India', around three years back, which stated that Bangalore and Chennai were leading cities with cervical cancer cases.
According to the Population based Cancer Registry (PBCR), Bangalore city recorded the highest number of fresh cases when compared to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, recently.
City Express spoke to a few experts on the lack of awareness among the women regarding this deadly cancer.
Dr Aditi Bhat, Consultant, Surgical Oncologist, HealthCare Global Ltd (HCG), said, "It isn't that big a problem among the women in the cities as much as in the rural areas. The main cause is poor hygiene more prevalent in the lower socio-economic strata of the society and lack of screening facilities in rural areas. In villages, it is common to see women giving birth at a very young age, say 17 or 18 years. It is recommended that they get themselves screened at least three years after their first sexual intercourse. It is also common among women who have multiple sexual partners."
She recommends women go through the Pap Smear test at least once in a year after they cross 21 years of age. Contradictory to what many think Pap Smear is not painful. Women aged between 35 and 64 are commonly affected by cervical cancer. But, early screening is the key as it leads to early diagnosis.
Dr Kumaraswamy, Radiation Oncologist, HCG feels there has been a downward trend in the number of cervical cancer cases. He said, "There is a decline in cervical cancer when compared to breast cancer due to change in lifestyle. Even women in rural areas are limiting the number of births to two. There has been a stress on family planning off late."
Unfortunately, cervical cancer can't be included in a government aided health scheme, as the cost to examine every women in the nation on a yearly basis can be a very expensive affair.
"Regular cervical cancer screening should continue even after vaccination since vaccinations do not protect against all kinds of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Other than early marriage, poor hygiene and birth of multiple children, nutrition plays a very important role in preventing cervical cancer," said Dr Kumaraswamy.