Is Cervical Cancer a Preventable Disease?
It is the second most common type of cancer among women claiming more than 300,000 die from the disease every year. Globally, over half a million women acquire cervical cancer and over 85% among them are diagnosed in developing countries. It is because these countries lack effective screening and treatment programmes that can catch pre-cancerous symptoms before they turn fatal.
Dr. Swati Dutta, Gynaecologist (MBBS – DMCH) revealed to Future Healthcare certain life-saving insights about this malignant disease to spread more awareness about its prevention.
What causes a Cervical Cancer?
Cervical Cancer is a disease that develops quite slowly and begins with a precancerous condition known as Dysplasia. If neglected, it can turn into a malignant tumour deriving from cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the cause of 90% of cervical cancer. About half of the sexually transmitted HPVs are associated with cervical cancer.
This cancer is more common among women between 35 to 55 years of age. At least 20% cervical cancer cases are found in the age group of 65 years and above. Screening till the age of 70 years is therefore recommended.
What are the signs of Cervical Cancer?
Some of the signs of Cervical Cancer include:
- Abnormal bleeding from vagina
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
What are the risk factors of Cervical Cancer?
Some of the triggers of Cervical Cancer are as follows:
- Sexual exposure at a very young age
- Pregnancy under 17 years
- Multiple pregnancies
- Prolonged usage of Oral Pills
- Multiple sex partners
- Poor intake of fruits and vegetables
- Heavy Smoking
- Weak immune system
- Partner who is in sexual contact with a woman with cervical cancer
Can you talk about some preventive measures to ward off the risks of Cervical Cancer?
Some of the effective measures to prevent Cervical Cancer are:
- Screening & vaccination
- Maintaining safe sex
- Timely detection of abnormal tissues or cells in cervix
- Prompt treatment and care
Can you name few screening tests that can indicate Cervical Cancer?
Early detection of changes in the cervical cells through right mix of screening programmes can reduce the risks of this cancer by 80%.
Some of the screening tests that can help to diagnose Cervical Cancer early are:
- PAP Smear Test
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) DNA Test
- Liquid-based Cytology Test
- Visual Inspection & Acetic Acid Test
What is the most effective method of screening Cervical Cancer?
Although preventable, if this disease goes undiagnosed and not treated in early stages, it has a very high death rate. One-time screening may not be enough to avert this disease. Persistent effort is essential for foolproof interception of Cervical Cancer. That is why it is important to go for screening at different stages:
- Every 3 years between 21 to 29 years of age
- Every 5 years between 30 and 70 years of age
- No screening required if a woman has negative result for last 10 years after 65 years
It is important to remember that for cases where a woman has gone through hysterectomy, a screening is not required except if the hysterectomy is done for early cervical cancer detection.
Dr. Swati Dutta