Cervical cancer is known to be one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths in women. According to the estimates, nearly 74,000 Indian women die annually and nearly two lakh new cases are reported annually in the country.
On this cervical cancer prevention week, which is globally observed every year from January 22 to 29, the city based oncologists emphasis on timely intervention and regular screening which aims to detect the disease at the pre-cancer stage when it is amenable to simple treatment and cure.
Dr Venkatachala K, consultant, surgical oncologist, HCG Ltd says, “The most common cause of cervical cancer is human papilloma virus infection which is a sexually transmitted virus. Poor hygiene, unsafe promiscuous sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, early age of sexual activity, early age at first child-birth, having multiple children, tobacco use, prolonged use of hormonal contraceptives and an impaired immune system, particularly related to HIV infection, are some of the causes for the cancer. However, due to the lack of awareness about the disease, very few women come forward for the screening tests. Even those from upper middle class in urban cities are reluctant to undertake PAP smear test regularly.
The specialists says that women do not openly come forward to discuss their health problems, which might also be one of the reasons for high number of cervical cancer incidences and deaths in our country.
“It is essential for all women to undergo cervical cancer screening in the form of PAP smear at least once a year from 18 years of age or earlier depending on sexual activity,” added Dr Venkatachala.
Dr P P Bapsy, senior consultant, department of oncology, Apollo Hospital says that most often women keep postponing the screening even if they notice any symptoms. It becomes the last priority for them consequently by the time they finally decide to visit the doctor, they would have reached the second or advance stage.
However experts says that by safe sexual activity or protected sex, proper hygiene, diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetable and low saturated food can be of great help to minimise the risks. Besides, a screening tests or conventional PAP smear tests, HPV DNA testing (High risk viruses) Colposcopy guided biopsy can also be done.