All About Cervical Health Awareness Month

Posted On Jan 18, 2023

7 Min Read

Department of Gynaec Oncology

Manipal Hospitals

Minimally Invasive Surgery in Bangalore

Cervical cancer affects women’s cervix (an entrance to the uterus from the vagina). The human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common virus spread through sexual contact, is associated with almost all cases (99%) of cervical cancer. The majority of HPV infections are self-limiting and have no symptoms, but if they persist, they can lead to cervical cancer in females.

It's Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in January. It is the ideal chance for WHO and its collaborators to increase public awareness of cervical cancer and HPV vaccination. The theme of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month this year is "ending cervical cancer within a few generations." It aims to motivate women to focus more on their health. For the majority of their lives, women neglect to take care of their cervical health. Women who are aware of this are better able to detect health problems and get the best care.

Let's learn more about our cervical health from Dr. Shafalika SB, Consultant-Minimally Invasive Gynaecology, Manipal Hospital-Hebbal, during Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Why is Cervical Health Awareness Month Important?

  • It urges women to maintain good cervical health

It raises awareness of cervical health issues and encourages women to take care of them. Women become more aware of the advantages of lifestyle modifications and the value of foods high in folate and vitamin A in preventing cervical cancer.

  • It raises public awareness of HPV

Males and females both value this day equally. Both men and women are susceptible to infection with the human papillomavirus. Additionally, this month is used to raise awareness about HPV and its cure. People are made aware of the HPV vaccines and efficient treatments to lessen the effects on carriers because there is no known cure for the HPV virus.

  • Young girls are subjected to cervix screenings

Even if they are not exhibiting any symptoms or warning signs of cervical cancer, women are advised to undergo a pap smear. Additionally, specific activities are held for high school students to emphasise the value of HPV vaccinations. Additionally, a thorough explanation of the entire goal and process of a Pap smear is provided.

In India, cervical cancer is the most prevalent genital cancer. However, in most circumstances, it may be avoided. Dr. Shipra Kunwar, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Manipal Hospital Kharadi in Pune, provides insightful details on cervical cancer and its prevention in the full video. 

Knowing More About Cervical Cancer

The second most prevalent cancer in women of reproductive age and the fourth most frequent cancer in women overall is cervical cancer. The majority of cases of this cancer are seen in females between the ages of 35 and 44, with an average diagnostic age of 50. Younger ladies under the age of 20 rarely experience it. Age-related risk factors include the fact that many older women with cervical cancer are unaware of their condition. But in women who had regular cervical cancer screenings before the age of 65, this malignancy is rare.

It might be fatal if it is not discovered in its early stages. Precancerous cervical cells frequently do not show symptoms until the condition has advanced to a risky and serious stage.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

  • Pelvic pain unrelated to menstruation

  • Abnormal bleeding that happens with a period, after a sexual encounter, or in postmenopausal women

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

  • Increased urination or discomfort while urinating

Numerous cervical cancer symptoms are also typical indicators of other medical problems. Women should consult their gynaecologist for advice if they have any of these symptoms.

Association of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer

  • Ninety-nine percent of all cervical malignancies are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is also known as an STD. HPV is a virus that has more than 100 different strains and is incredibly widespread. Each year, approximately 14 million people, including adolescents, contract the virus, which is now present in nearly one in every four people. 

  • Most of the time, HPV does not result in any health issues since the immune system stops the disease from progressing, but occasionally, the virus persists and results in the formation of abnormal cervical cells that can develop into cancer. Therefore, avoiding HPV is a crucial step in preventing cervical cancer.

Common Causes of Cervical Cancer

The most common cause of cervical cancer is Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The human papillomavirus, which is transmitted through sexual contact, causes cervical cancer. Therapy for HPV in its early stages is simple, but cervical cancer can progress slowly without treatment, posing serious hazards.

Advances in testing technologies, routine screening, and effective HPV vaccination are making conditions better and lowering the death rate. After a certain age, it becomes imperative for women to get checked for cervical cancer. Women over the age of 35 are at the highest risk of getting cancer, but with routine screening, cervical cancer can be found early and treated.

Screening options

Routine screening can help reduce the risk of HPV and other precancerous changes that could lead to tumours. Effective diagnostic methods that can help women avoid or reduce their chance of developing cervical cancer include the following:

  • Papanicolaou test (Pap smear)

It is a routine pelvic exam used to look for changes in the cervical cells that could indicate the development of cervical cancer. In order to remove anything unusual that might aid in the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer, the doctor will harvest cells from the cervix's surface. PAP testing is typically advised for females 30 years of age and older. If necessary, it can be repeated after five years along with an HPV test. If there are any concerns, your doctor may require periodic testing.

  • VIA Screening

An acetic acid-based visual examination (VIA) technique can detect cervical lesions. For females between the ages of 26 and 30, a basic treatment regimen that accurately identifies cervical cancer's early symptoms is the most cost-effective approach. Immediately following a cervical biopsy, women who are determined to be VIA positive receive cryotherapy treatment. Precancerous lesions around the cervix can be confirmed using VIA. Women in distant locations with few resources may find this strategy quite helpful and affordable.

  • HPV Testing

In 99% of cases, human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the root cause of cervical cancer. The HPV testing helps identify HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer in the majority of women. One can lower their risk of cervical cancer and choose the best course of therapy if they catch HPV early. One may have adequate time for a diagnosis and treatment because HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, typically takes at least 10 years to develop into the disease. If the doctor recommends a PAP and HPV test together, one should not be worried; it's a routine practice done for assurance.

If the doctor discovers anything suspicious based on your screening results, you might be asked to keep an eye on your situation. The medical professional can also suggest you see a different specialist or ask you to undergo further procedures such as a colposcopy, a biopsy, or the removal of abnormal cervical cells.

How Frequently Should Women be Screened?

Every woman should get routine cervical cancer screenings since they are an important component of maintaining good women's health. Women should start screening at age 21, regardless of when they first started having sex. The frequency and type of cervical cancer screening tests will be determined by their age and medical history.

  • An annual Pap test is recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 29.

  • Although Pap tests are desirable, HPV testing alone can be considered for women between the ages of 25 and 29.

  • Every five years, women between the ages of 30 and 65 can either have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing), or they can have a Pap test every three years and an HPV test every five years.

Cervical cancer screenings are crucial and must be carried out on a regular basis after speaking with a doctor. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease that can be cured if found early. Cervical cancer continues to kill many women worldwide. Be a responsible woman, get screened, receive the appropriate treatment, and win this battle.

To get consultation on  minimally invasive surgery in Bangalore for cervical cancer, visit a top cancer hospital by booking an appointment. 

HPV Vaccine

There are screening tests that can find early illness symptoms and vaccines against high-risk HPV types, allowing for appropriate management and treatment of the issue. Cervical cancer is, therefore, one of the tumours that can easily be prevented and treated.

  • Preteens between the ages of 11 and 12 are advised to have an HPV vaccination. However, it can be administered as early as age 9.

  • All individuals up to the age of 26 are advised to take the HPV vaccine if they have not already done so.

  • Over-26-year-olds are not advised to receive the HPV vaccine. However, some adults aged 27 to 45 who are unvaccinated may choose to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk of developing new HPV infections and the potential benefits of vaccination. Due to increased HPV exposure in this age range, the HPV vaccine is less effective.

  • The HPV vaccine does not treat pre-existing problems, but it does protect against future HPV infections. As a result, the HPV vaccine functions best when given prior to any HPV exposure.

The vaccines Gardasil® and Gardasil® 9 offer protection against a number of the most dangerous varieties of HPV, and they are suitable for both males and females. Men are frequently HPV carriers and are susceptible to a variety of malignancies that result from the STD.

Promoting Cervical Health

The best way to promote cervical health is to keep it simple. One should ask their doctor which HPV vaccine is best for them if they are a good candidate but have not yet had it. To stop future infections, parents can also vaccinate their teenagers.

People in relationships should encourage their partners to get immunized, and safe sex should always be practised. Sexually active individuals ought to get tested for the human papillomavirus and take preventative measures to further safeguard their health.

Considering Cervical Health Proactively

It is better to use caution when dealing with cervical cancer than to be afraid of it. Simple actions like frequent screening, HPV vaccination, and STD testing can all significantly improve your general health. Tests and screenings are available right now, and cervical cancer is both treatable and preventable.

Waiting for someone else to speak for you is not advisable. Dr Illa Jalote, our physician from the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Manipal Hospital Gurugram, gives an illuminating lecture on the subject of "Cervical Cancer Screening and Vaccination".

Cervical Health Awareness Month: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What colour is Cervical Health Awareness Month?

The month of Cervical Cancer Awareness is symbolised by the colour teal. Healthcare professionals educate the public on the risks of cervical cancer and how to avoid them through early detection and vaccinations.

  • What is the goal of organising cervical health awareness month? 

The purpose of creating a Cervical Health Awareness Month is to:

  • Learning more about the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the cause of cervical cancer, and assisting in educating other women in their lives.

  • Getting all women screened for cervical cancer. Typically, screening for cervical cancer begins at age 30 and is repeated frequently.

  • Getting vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer. A girl should start receiving the HPV vaccine in two doses when she is between the ages of 9 and 14 years old.

  • What is the main factor that leads to cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is mostly caused by persistent infection with specific H.P.V. strains.

  • What are the food products that are recommended for good cervical health?

Green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach, as well as nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and walnuts, are good for cervical health. Foods high in vitamin A and folate are also beneficial for maintaining cervical health.

  • How can cervical cancer be avoided?

Preventing and treating cervical cancer requires early detection. There are different types of screening tests available for identifying cervical cancer early, including a Pap smear, VIA screening, and HPV testing. Also, there are two vaccines that can help prevent specific types of cervical cancer, including Gardasil® and Gardasil® 9. Parents are recommended to discuss the various vaccines with their healthcare professionals and choose the one that will be most appropriate for their child.

Consult a top consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for diagnosis and treatment. 

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