‘Low awareness, skipping Pap smear test increasing cervical cancer rates’: Experts

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PUNE: Cervical cancer in India accounts for one-fifth of cervical cancer prevalent globally. Due to the lack of awareness and social stigmata, the mortality rate among patients suffering from cervical cancer has risen from 74,118 reported deaths in 2002 to 2,70,000 reported deaths at present, say experts.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in India. It is a malignant tumour of the lower-most part of the uterus (womb), it occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control.
Gynaecologist and obstetrician Asmita Potdar of Apollo Spectra hospital here said, “These mortality numbers can be partly attributed to the lack of awareness of the prevention techniques and the need for early detection through periodic health check-ups. However, awareness among healthcare providers and women for the need for pap screening and preventive services is a must and should go towards alleviating the problem.”
Gynaecologist Madhuri Burande Laha of Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi said “Although, the condition was earlier common in women above 30 years of age, nowadays, a sharp rise in the incidence of the condition is being seen in women in the second decade of their life. Cervical cancer occurs in sexually active women between 30-45 years of age. However, with more number of young girls being sexually active at an early age, the risk of acquiring the condition increases. Human papilloma-virus is known to be transmitted from one person to another during sexual intercourse. This does not mean that every sexually active woman will acquire cervical cancer.”
“It’s important to follow up with your doctor after an abnormal Pap test result, so you can treat abnormal cell changes. HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer and can be taken up to the age of 45 but ideally before 26 years as earlier is better. The treatment for cervical cancer includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy based on the varied stages of the disease,” she said
“Sexually active women should regularly conduct a Pap smear test, as cervical cancer is difficult to diagnose in the pre-cancerous stage. Primary level education regarding the condition (in schools) must be planned routinely to create awareness about cervical cancer as it can be prevented”, said Potdar.

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