Out of all cancers that affect the people in India, especially in women, cervical cancer holds the position of the most common and the deadliest.
What is cervical cancer? It is the cancer of the mouth of the uterus called cervix. Essentially, it is a cancer that is caused at the neck of the womb and infects the cervix. The virus alters the behaviour of the cells and over the years can turn them malignant. This is the commonest cancer in India surpassing even breast cancer and it is a possibility for all sexually active women to contract this disease. According to the recent statistics, one women (Indian) dies of cervical cancer for every 7 minutes.
Cervical cancer can also be caused by rubbing in private sensitive parts which is unnoticeable. Basically, cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease where 80% of all cases are caused due to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is transmitted through sexual contact (normal, oral and anal), and it applicable to both heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships.
It is very difficult to find out how and who has transmitted HPV in the infected women. Most women never even know they have HPV, or that they are passing it to their partner. There are some other risk facts which may lead to cervical cancer, like having sex at an early age with many sexual partners, undergoing many pregnancies, to avoid pregnancy by using birth control pills for 5 or more years and most commonly by consuming any form of tobacco.
So, is this disease curable? Yes, the three main treatments available today are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In case of a surgery, the chances of a woman conceiving a child later in her life are dismal. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy have not shown drastic miracles so far in India with respect to saving the ailing person’s life as it has below average success rate.
Complimenting with a famous known quote, “Prevention is better than cure”. There isn’t a country on this planet where there isn’t someone dreaming of curing cancer. What if there was something even more spectacular than curing cancer? What if we could stop cancer right in its tracks and eliminate its existence? Prevent it. Squash it before it starts.
There are some preventive measures like the cervical cancer vaccine as it is the first vaccine ever designed to prevent cancer. It is recommended to girls aged 11 to 12 years as it allows a girl’s immune system to be activated before she’s likely to encounter HPV. This vaccine is not yet available in India, but is expected by the year end. However, it is interesting to see how its immunity lasts in our country as it is a recent development in medical sciences. Next comes delayed sexual activity; in precise, waiting to have sex until they get older that can help them to avoid HPV. It also helps to limit the number of sexual partners and to avoid having sex with someone who has had many other sexual partners. The most common one is usage of condoms which when used correctly, can lower the HPV infection rate by about 70%. There are also very important tests for women that should be done once in 3 years as they detect the presence of this cancer. The tests are Pap test, HPV test and Colposcopy test and these are minimal in cost and are available in many parts of the country.
At the end there is an interesting fact that cancer can be cured and its survival rates are much better in women as compared to men. Hence cervical cancer is curable if the women are aware of prevention methods as its causes are not very clear and are difficult to identify. Slowly, we can overcome the obstacle presented by the cancer by following all these precautionary measures and prevent the disease. Let us hope that this happens very soon in our country and there will be nothing to be dreaded about the C-word anymore.