Cervical cancer kills 1 every 7 minutes

Cervical cancer kills 1 every 7 minutes

Approximately half a million cases of cervical cancer are detected annually across the world, and 85% of these occur in low and middle-income countries. Every seven minutes one woman dies of cervical cancer.

While these facts might seem alarming, it is important to know the causes and risk factors for this deadly disease. Infection of the uterine cervix with the high-risk types of HPV contributes to cervical cancer. Other risk factors are genital infections, early onset of sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, smoking etc.

Most women diagnosed with the disease are between 35 and 55 years of age. It rarely affects women under 20, and approximately 20% of cases are detected in women older than 65.

Here are some possible symptoms of cervical cancer:

* Abnormal bleeding between menstrual cycles, after sexual intercourse, after a pelvic exam and after menopause.

* Pelvic pain not related to periods.

* Heavy or unusual discharge that may be watery, thick with a foul odour.

* Increased urinary frequency

* Pain during urination

Once diagnosed, the treatments available are surgery or radiation with chemotherapy. To reduce the risk of cervical cancer, the following measures are recommended:

Vaccination: HPV vaccine is available for girls and women in the age group of nine to 26. The vaccine is most effective if given to girls before they become sexually active.

Pap test: Pap test can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix. Women must go in for routine pap tests at 21 and repeat them every three years.

HPV test: This can be conducted on women over 30 years of age. The interval of screening can be increased to five years if HPV test is negative.

(The author is affiliated with CORE Diagnostics)

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