What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is the cancer of the mouth of the uterus. This is the only cancer that is conclusively proven to be caused in the vast majorily of the cases by a virus called Human popilomovirus (HPV), HPV is a common virus that is sexually-transmitted.

How are you at risk?

According to india's leading cancer treatment central tata Memorial Hospital's website, even though HPV is a common virus, there are certain risk factors that make infection more likely. These are: early age (15 years or younger) at first sexual intercourse; a history of many (more than seven) sexual partners; smoking – which damages the cervical cancer, and HIV infection which impacts the body's immune system and its ability to fight off HPV. Other research also points of the use of oral contraception and three or more births per woman as risk factors.

Cervicl cancer, like many lethal diseases, is a silent killer, This means that the symptoms often don't manifest until the disease has reached advanced strages where chances of survival are relatively sslimmer and treatment more expensive. When symptoms do occur they may include pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse, unusual discharge from the vagina, and/or blood spots or light bleeding other than a normal period.

If detected early, it is possible to fight it.

Why Cervical Cancer screening?

Cervical Cancer is preventable
Cervical Cancer is easily selectable
Cervical Cancer is treatable

How do we prevent Cervical Cancer?

Vaccination against HPV
Regular screening to detect pre-cancer stages
lifestyle changes

What is HPV or human papilloma virus?

HPV is a family of many viruses. When the cervix harbours certion high risk strains of HPV virus for many years, these women are more susceptible to cervical cancers.

HPV vaccines

There are 2 vaccines against HPV in the market as of today. Both are aimed to help prevent cervical cancer. The ideal target population who should be vaccinated is 11-13 year old girls. These young girls have the ideal immune response to the vaccine giving them maximum protection. As age increases and after onset of sexual activity, the response to vaccine reduces. However, FDA has approved the vaccine for use ages 11-45 year.

Vaccine schedule

Gardisil-3 doses at 0,2,6 months(in deltoid miscle)
ervarix-3 doses at 0,1,6 months(in deltoid miscle

Lifestyle changes to reduce risk of developing cervical cancer

Late onset of sexual debut
Limit number of sexual parters
Quit smoking
Less number of childbirths
Reduce use of OC pills

Early detection of cervical cancer

Regular pelvic examinations
Screening tests like Pap smear nad HPV DNA test
Cervical biopsy and colposcopy if need be

Pelvic examination

This includes your gynaecologist looking at your cervix with naked eye to look for abnormalities

Pap smear

involves a gynaecologist gently scraping the cervix to pick up cells on a slide or solution. This is examined under a microscope by a cytologist to look for abnormal/precanceer cells.

HPV DNA testing

This test is taken just like a pap test to lookfor presence of some high risk strains of HPV virus in your cervix

Take home messages

Be aware with the right knowledge, spread it
Vaccinate early
Don't stop regular screening despitevaccination
report early to your gynaecologist if you have any symptoms