Facts and Myths about Cervical Cancer
3 weeks ago Saloni Hindocha 0
Cervical Cancer has emerged second in causing cancer-related deaths in women in India after breast cancer. Women of age between 15 years to 45 years are, particularly at risk. There are about 122,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually in the country, with 67,500 women succumbing to the disease. Nandita Palshetkar, Medical Director, Bloom IVF Group & President, Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India said that this type of cancer is mostly caused by Human Papilloma Virus or HPV and affects the lining of the cervix or the lower part of the uterus.
This cancer develops slowly and becomes full-blown over time. HPV infection can spread through sexual or skin-to-skin contact. Though this infection usually goes away on its own over time in most women, in others, it can persist and cause cancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. Symptoms of this cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal bleeding after menopause or sex, bleeding or spotting between periods, longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual, other abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse.
Every disease has their own myths surrounding them. Same is the case with cervical cancer.
- Myth 1 – Women without a family history of cervical cancer do not need to get screened.
Those without a family history of this condition may also be at risk. This is because the HPV infection can spread through sexual contact. It is, thus, important to get take preventive measures and get Pap tests done.
- Myth 2 – Pap tests should be done every year
The recommended schedule is once in three years in women between 21 and 29; and once every five years in women between 30 and 64. Those above the age of 64 should follow their doctor’s advice. There is no need of taking a Pap test every year.
- Myth 3 – It is not possible to prevent cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. A Pap test can help determine any kind of changes in the cells of the cervix. Once any such change is detected, it is possible to start treatment early and prevent cancer from developing. Pap test is imperative for anyone who has been sexually active or in women who have HPV and are smokers.
- Myth 4 – Condoms can prevent HPV
Condoms can help prevent certain sexually transmitted infections (STI). However, this may not be true for HPV as the virus can inhabit areas that condoms do not cover.
- Myth 5 – Women with no symptoms need not get tested
HPV infections do not show any symptoms in most cases. While there are different types of HPV, some high-risk types are associated with cervical cancer and can go undetected until the development of abnormal cells. This makes it important for women to get tested on a regular basis.
There were some myths relating to cervical cancer. These are not the only ones, there are many more of such kind. It is extremely important that we understand that cervical cancer is a treatable condition and timely screening and detection of the virus help in the process of treatment. Women should get screened on a timely basis, quit smoking, consume a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and maintain a healthy weight in order to prevent the disease.