Docs call for awareness to beat cervical cancer

Hyderabad: On the occasion of cervical cancer awareness month, observed every January, oncologists called for increased awareness about the availability of a vaccine, good hygiene and regular screening to ward off or combat the second-most common cancer among women.

Oncologists said that breast cancer has replaced cervical cancer as the most common type of cancer in recent years, but the numbers remain significant enough to imply a lack of awareness about it.

Dr C. Sairam, a senior oncologist at MNJ Hospital, said that about 1.3 lakh women die in India from cervical cancer, while the number of deaths in the world is about 5 lakh. “About 26 per cent of the deaths in the world occur in India, and yet, there is lack of awareness on the availability of vaccines for cervical cancer, as well as lack of proper, structured screening programmes,” he said.

Dr Sairam said that cervical cancer is also a common AIDS-defining malignancy, which means an HIV-positive person is at high risk.

The high rates of cervical cancer are also linked to personal behaviours, said Dr Palanki Satya Dattatreya, the director and chief of medical oncology department at a private hospital.

“The major risk factors are poor personal hygiene, early age of marriage and intercourse, multiple sexual partners, presence of other infections, like STDs, and weakened immune system along with co-factors like long-term use of contraceptives and smoking,” he said.

Saying that the overall situation has improved, he said, “The situation is still alarming in rural areas, where a majority of women are illiterate and have poor hygienic conditions.”

To prevent cancer or for its early detection, doctors recommend women take one of the many available vaccines that can prevent infection against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and undergo regular screening tests.

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