January 22th to 29th is observed as Cervical Cancer prevention week. According to a survey conducted by the oncologists of HCG Hospitals, Bangalore alone records 21.1% out of 100,000 fresh cases of cervical cancer every year. It is comparatively higher than other metropolitan cities. Delhi (17.9%), Kolkata (14.2%), in Mumbai (14.1%) and Chennai (18.5) contribute to fresh cervical cancer cases in comparatively lesser numbers than Bangalore. The survey also reveals that women living in rural areas are more prone to this disease.
In India, around 80-85% of women are affected by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) before the age of 35 years. The infection of HPV is very rampant. This virus generally affects women. It causes cellular changes in the cervical area of the body which in turn leads to cancer. Cervical cancer affects women between 30 to 40 years of age.
The primary symptoms of cervical cancer are urinary infections, blood in the urine, lower back pain as well as lower abdominal pain and many more.
Dr. Venkatachala K, Surgical Oncologist of HCG hospital says, "A low socio economic state of life plays a vital role. Hygiene matters a lot. People living in rural areas do not maintain proper hygiene that is why they are more prone to cervical cancer than city people."
"World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all women who are sexually active to go for Pap Smear test once in two years. The test should be started from the age of 18," he added.
Reluctance of women to go for Pap Smear test is one of the biggest problems. Dr. Venkatachala K says, "People come for routine check-ups. They do tests like diabetes, blood pressure, lipid profile and all others but, they ignore Pap Smear test." He says it is difficult for the doctors to treat Cervical cancer, if it is not detected in time.
Women should avoid smoking; they should have safe sex, they should maintain hygiene to avoid cervical cancer. If the disease is detected at an early stage, it is completely curable. "People need to understand that cancer is a curable disease provided it is being detected early. Government and the family and healthcare department should make people aware of this disease. They should be educated," he added.
Three and a half years ago, Kavita (name changed) was detected with Cervical cancer stage III at the age of 22. One of her kidneys was also blocked. She was treated with concurrent chemotherapy and radiation. This affected her fertility but saved her life. She has now completely recovered.⊕