Spot the signs of cervical cancer

Over 96,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and over 60,000 die from the disease, warns Dr Amita Shah

health

Cervical cancer is the second most deadly cancer for women just after breast cancer. It is estimated that India shares the burden of around one-fourth of the world cancer patients. It is estimated that over 96,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and over 60,000 die from the disease.

Given such high mortality and morbidity, the awareness about the disease is abysmally low. This can be understood from the fact that only 22% of women in the country in the age group of 15 to 49 years, when the risks of contracting the disease is the highest, have undergone a cervix examination at least once. It therefore becomes highly important that women have better awareness about the disease and recognise the signs early.

Diagnosis

Cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease that mostly affects women in the age group of 15 to 44 years. Due to lack of awareness about the disease, early diagnosis treatment and cure rates of cervical cancer becomes a challenge for health professionals. Cervical cancer can also be prevented with safe sex practices and diagnostic tests, such as the pap-smear test. Vaccination is not easily available to sexually active women. However, the facility is available with a limited number of providers, mainly in cities. This makes screening sporadic and leaves out women who live outside the periphery of urban areas. Even if one is vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), it cannot replace screening which is mandatory after the age of 40.

(The author is senior consultant, Ob&G, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon)

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