Cervical cancer awareness week observed to highlight importance of screening

Cervical cancer is one of the largest contributors to cancer deaths in women. Yet, unawareness prevails when it comes to its vaccination and screening; leading to rise in deaths each year due to cervical cancer. January 21 to 27 is celebrated as cervical cancer awareness week

Cervical cancer awareness week observed to highlight importance of screeningThe high mortality rate from cervical cancer globally could be reduced through a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, early diagnosis, effective screening and treatment programmes. There are currently vaccines that protect against common cancer-causing types of human papilloma virus and can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women. Yet, people are unaware that there is a vaccine with which it can be prevented. Majority cervical cancer cases are screened at later stage.

Symptoms of cervical cancer tend may include: irregular, inter-menstrual (between periods) or abnormal vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse; back, leg or pelvic pain; fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite; vaginal discomfort or odourous discharge; and a single swollen leg.

Dr Minish Jain, oncologist from Pune, said, “Screening aims to detect precancerous changes, which, if not treated, may lead to cancer. Women who are found to have abnormalities on screening need follow-up, diagnosis and treatment, in order to prevent the development of cancer or to treat cancer at an early stage. Unfortunately people in India are not aware about screening and many cases get diagnosed at later stage.”

Dr Nikhil Pawar, oncologist from Pune, said, “The World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for all girls between 9 and 13 years. Not all state governments have made it available at government hospital. The vaccine is safe, but there are very few who are aware about it.”

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