Cervical Cancer Silently Killing Indian Women In Their Prime

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Despite Cervical Cancer being a highly preventable disease with a vaccine nearly 70,000 Indians died of cervical cancer last year, more than anywhere else in the world. It’s the second-most common cancer among women in the country, accounting for 23% of all cases. It’s a hidden disease, often taking 20 years to show its signs and symptoms.

We lose one mother every eight minutes, usually in their 30s or 40s, often just at the time when families need them the most. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix  grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina

 

Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. One can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of the HPV virus. Not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms.

Most adults have been infected with HPV at some time. An infection may go away on its own. But sometimes it can cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer. That's why it's important for women to have regular Pap tests. A Pap test can find changes in cervical cells before they turn into cancer

What are the symptoms?

Abnormal cervical cell changes rarely cause symptoms. But one may have symptoms if those cell changes grow into cervical cancer. 

Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • Bleeding from the vagina that is not normal, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sex, or after menopause.
  • Pain in the lower belly or pelvis.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Vaginal discharge that isn't normal.

How is cervical cancer diagnosed?

As part of a pelvic exam, one should have a Pap test done. During a pap test, the doctor scrapes a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix to look for cell changes. If a Pap test shows abnormal cell changes, doctor may do other tests to look for precancerous or cancer cells on your cervix.

 Doctor may also do a Pap test and take a sample of tissue (biopsy) if someone has symptoms of cervical cancer, such as bleeding after sex.

How is it treated?

The treatment for most stages of cervical cancer includes:

Depending on how much the cancer has grown one or more treatments. And combination of treatments can be advised. After hysterectomy, person won't be able to have children. But a hysterectomy isn't always needed, especially when cancer is found very early.

Can cervical cancer be prevented?

“Prevention is always better then cure”. The Pap test is the best way to find cervical cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. Regular Pap tests almost always show these cell changes before they turn into cancer. It's important to follow up with doctor after any abnormal Pap test result so can treat abnormal cell changes. This may help prevent cervical cancer.

In age 26 or younger, all can get the HPV vaccine, which protects against types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

The virus that causes cervical cancer is spread through sexual contact. The best way to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection is to not have sex, practice safer sex, such as using condoms and limiting the number of sex partners.

The HPV Vaccine

People get HPV infections by having intimate contact with someone who is infected. That includes touching genitals and having vaginal, anal, and oral sex. But there is a way to prevent infection: the HPV vaccine.

The HPV vaccine is one of the immunizations that the CDC recommends to protect children, adolescents, and young adults from preventable diseases.

It comes as a series of 2 or 3 shots, depending on the age of the person who's getting the vaccine. In India use of vaccine is still a gray area lot of awareness is required at least every girl should be vaccinated before her sexual life.

How Safe Is the HPV Vaccine?

The vaccine is very safe and generally well tolerated. You may have some soreness or redness at the injection site, but that's common with all vaccines.

The HPV vaccine is an important breakthrough: it effectively prevents people from getting serious diseases, like genital warts and some types of

There are many vaccines that children and adolescents get to prevent diseases. The HPV vaccine is no different from them.

Unlike many infections, HPV often has no symptoms, so one doesn’t know if have been infected. It can cause disease many years later.

People who get the vaccine before they become sexually active will be the most protected from HPV.

Get yourself tested regularly for early diagnosis and treatment

For more about cervical cancer or vaccine feel free to contact your doctor

(The writer is Head Preventive Health, Sr.Consultant HIV/AIDS, Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad) 

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