January Is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Fight The Fight And Find The Cure
January is designated as "Cervical Cancer Awareness Month."
Cervical cancer is India's third most common cancer and the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide. Every year more than 3,00,000 women die from cervical cancer. 18.3% of Indian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, according to the Globocan 2020 report. Only a small portion of women in India receive screenings for cervical cancer because of a lack of knowledge, hesitancy, or limited access to medical care. Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers as long as it is identified early and effectively. To increase public awareness of cervical cancer, join hands this January - cervical cancer awareness month 2023 to know about the condition, prevention, screening, and treatment.
Get A Sight Of Cervical Cancer
The cervix is the long, narrow end of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix begin to appear abnormal. It usually develops slowly over time. The abnormal cells may eventually develop into cancer cells and grow and spread deeper into the cervix and neighboring tissues if they are not removed or killed.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are around 100 strains of HPV, but only 14 of them are at high risk for causing cervical cancer. Most HPV infections resolve on their own within two years. A few people get cervical cancer because the high-risk strains of the virus stay in the body for more than two years, interacting with the cells. Early detection relies on regular screening.
Most sexually active women and men will contract the HPV at some point in their lives, and some may contract it more than once. HPV is mostly sexually transmitted; although penetrative intercourse is not necessary for HPV transmission, it can also spread through skin-to-skin or skin-to-genital contact. Certain risk factors for cervical cancer include multiple sex partners, early sexual activity, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), weak immune system, smoking, use of contraceptive pills, and miscarriage pills.
Be Aware Of The Signs And Symptoms
Warning signs and symptoms include bleeding between periods and heavy bleeding during periods, discomfort and excessive bleeding after sexual intercourse, bleeding after menopause, vaginal discharge with a foul smell, increased urination, or pain during urination.
Importance Of Screening - cervical health awareness
Get Informed! Get Screened! Get Protected!
Being informed about cervical cancer and its screening as a part of cervical health awareness are the key components to eradicating cancer. Its goal is to ensure that women lead healthy and productive lives. The three main ways to screen for cervical cancer are,
- Human papillomavirus test (HPV): It checks if you are affected by the virus or at increased risk of getting the infection.
- Papanicolaou (PAP) smear: This test looks for pre-cancer cells (cells in the cervix that look abnormal but not cancerous)
- HPV And PAP: The HPV/PAP combination test examines cervical cell alterations and high-risk HPV.
When To Start And Get A Screening?
You should get screened from age 21; if you are between the ages 21 to 29, an PAP test will be recommended first. If your PAP-only tests are normal, your doctor may recommend getting the next screening after three years. If you are between the ages of 30 to 65 years, United States Preventive Service Task Force (UPSTF) recommends getting screened for cervical cancer using an HPV test or HPV/PAP combination test every five years and a PAP test every three years if you are sexually active.
Talk to your doctor about which screening test works best for you. Even if you are sexually active, you do not require a PAP screening before age 21. If you are older than 65, discuss with your doctor to know if screening is still needed.
Prevention For Cervical Cancer
Cervical Cancer Can Be Cured!
Preventive measures are important to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. These measures depend on your age, overall health, and personal risk for cervical cancer.
- Get regular screening
- Get jabbed with the HPV vaccine
- Practice safe sex
- Quit smoking
- Practice healthy hygiene
- Avoid multiple sex partners
Fear Not! Get Your Shot!
Vaccination can prevent most cervical cancer cases if given before the virus exposure. Currently, there are two types of HPV vaccine available in India. According to the Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 should get vaccinated. The vaccine can be given as early as age 9. It is important for girls and boys to receive the HPV vaccine before they have sexual contact. Children between 9 and 15 years old should receive two vaccines at least six months apart. Teens and young adults between 15 and 26 should receive three vaccine doses. Recently the FDA approved the vaccine for all males and females ages 9 to 45. Talk to your healthcare provider about your age and other medical conditions to check whether you require the HPV vaccine.
Good News! It's Time To End Cervical Cancer
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) head has recently announced that India would soon immunize girls aged 9-14 from Human Papillomavirus (HPV) under a national vaccination program. The nationwide vaccination drive will begin by mid-May 2023. Protect yourself from cervical cancer by being aware of the commonly asked questions about it and the importance of its screening and vaccination.