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    More women in India dying from cervical cancer than in any other country

    Published on January 23, 2021

    BENGALURU : More women in India die from cervical cancer than in any other country. The world sees just over 6 lakhs new cases of cervical cancer every year, out of which 96,900 are from India. Out of the 341,000 deaths occurring in the world every year due to cervical cancer, 60,000 are from India, said Dr. Vidya V Bhat, Fertility Specialist & Medical Director, RadhaKrishna Multispecialty Hospital, in a talk during the ongoing Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. About 90% of all cervical cancers are caused due to infection with the common human papillomavirus (HPV), she said.


    Added Dr. Vidya V Bhat: “Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of women in India after breast cancer. It is a disease that develops quite slowly and begins with a pre-cancerous condition known as dysplasia which is easily detected in a routine Pap smear and is 100% curable at this stage. However, by stage IV of the cancer, the chances of survival drop to below 20%. Hence early detection is essential.”

    She said: “While the number of breast cancer cases has increased over the decade, the number of cervical cancer cases has reduced in India. In fact, cervical cancer cases fell from 28% to 14% in the last ten years due to several factors, including the introduction of a vaccine in India in 2008. In Bangalore, the incidence of cervical cancer is coming down by 1.9% every year. Yet, women should not lower their guard as any one of them above the age of 30 years can get cervical cancer. Those from lower socioeconomic status are especially at risk due to poor hygiene. Other risk factors include a family history of cervical cancer, women having more than three children, long-term use of birth control pills, having multiple sex partners, being sexually active at a young age, and smoking and obesity.”


    Women should be alert to symptoms of cervical cancer such as bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse, bleeding after going through menopause, and menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before. Discomfort while urinating, pelvic pain, leg pain, weight loss, constant fatigue and a cervix that is fixed and lost its mobility or one that bleeds on touch, are other symptoms of cervical cancer, according to Dr. Vidya V Bhat.

    Women can do many things to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, said Dr. Vidya V Bhat. This includes avoidance of factors such as early marriages, sex at a young age, polygamous relationships, smoking and giving birth to more than three children. Restriction in number of children and improvement of genital hygiene is also essential. It is important to undergo regular pap smear and HPV tests, and vaccinate women (three shots over six months) in their teen years or early twenties.

    In Stage I, the cancer is confined to the cervix. In Stage II, it includes the cervix as well as the uterus. In Stage III, the cancer has moved beyond the cervix and uterus to the pelvic wall or the lower portion of the vagina. In Stage IV, it has spread to nearby organs such as the bladder or rectum, or other areas of the body like lungs, liver, or the bones. The rate of cure keeps dropping from almost 100 percent in Stage 1 to 40% in Stage 3 and below 20% in Stage 4.