Cervical Cancer is the leading cause of Cancer deaths among women in India, with approximately 1.32 lakh new cases of Cervical Cancer being diagnosed and about 74,000 deaths occurring annually, accounting for nearly one-third of Cervical Cancer deaths across the world, even though it is preventable.
Cervical Cancer is caused when abnormal cells develop and spread in a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (the birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or the womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
Here are few things that everyone should know about Cervical Cancer –
- Cervical Cancer is mainly caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can be passed sexually from one person to another. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection affecting men and women alike.
- There are many types of the HPV virus. Not all types of HPV cause Cervical Cancer. In most cases, HPV infection goes away on its own without any specific treatment. But sometimes it can cause genital warts or Cervical Cancer.
- Cervical Cancer may not show any symptoms at an early stage, but, one can look for some of its warning signs which are-
- Other than getting infected with HPV, there are several other factors that increase your risk of contracting Cervical Cancer. These factors include smoking, having HIV, being sexually active at an early age and having multiple sex partners.
- There are two tests that help prevent Cervical Cancer or diagnose it at an early stage;a) LBC test – Liquid based cytology is the improved version of Cervical Cancer screening. It is rapidly replacing the conventional Pap smear method. It is a liquid-based pap test in which a sample of cells from the cervix is taken and placed in a liquid solution that preserves the cells. The laboratory machine removes excess blood, mucous and inflammatory cells and produces a thin layer of cells on a glass slide.
A ThinPrep Pap Test slide is clearer, easier to read, and minimizes obscuring blood, mucus, and non-diagnostic debris, enabling increased accuracy for both manual assessment and computerized assessment of the cells.
b) HPV by Hybrid Capture – HPV by Hybrid Capture is a test used to show the presence or absence of HPV infection in the cells of a woman’s cervix. The HPV test is usually done in conjunction with LBC Testing. It is done:
-When a woman’s LBC Test results are mildly abnormal. The HPV Test is then used to tell whether or not HPV infection exists. If the woman is found to be infected with HPV, further tests will be done to be sure that she does not have serious cervical abnormalities.
-When woman over the age of 30 have HPV infections that do not disappear over time, they may be at greater risk for Cervical Cancer.
Women over 30 with a positive LBC Test and a positive HPV Test result have a higher risk of Cervical Cancer and may need to be tested more frequently. Though Cervical Cancer is more common in women in the age group of 30-40, every woman should get screened for Cervical Cancer regularly after every 3 years starting at the age of 21.
Cervical Cancer is the most common female Cancer, yet the most preventable Cancer with regular screening and follow-ups. In fact, it has a survival rate of 93% when detected at an early stage. Therefore, ensure every woman in your family gets screened regularly.