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‘Cervical cancer is curable’

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 - 11:39am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna
January 18-24 is cervical cancer prevention week. Women must learn how to avoid and detect this disease early.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study reveals that every year, around 1,32,082 women across the globe are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 74,000 die from this disease. Almost 2.4% of Indian women aged between 0 and 64 years are at risk of cervical cancer compared to 1.3% women worldwide. January 18-24 is earmarked as cervical cancer prevention week. Dr Shekhar Patil, Medical Oncologist, HCG, chats with DNA’s Soumita Majumdar about the various issues related to the disease.

Is cervical cancer life-threatening?
There is a misconception associated with this disease. But actually, cervical cancer is not life-threatening in many cases and with proper treatment, a patient can live a normal span of life.

What percentage of cysts or polyps formed in the cervix turns out to be cancerous? What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Less than 10% of the cysts and polyps can turn out to be cancerous. Often, cervical cancer symptoms are seen at a later stage only after the cancer has spread. Symptoms include white discharge, inter-menstrual  bleeding, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and post-coitial bleeding.

Who are at risk, doctor? Does a family history of cervical cancer matter?
Women who get married at an earlier age or have multiple male sexual partners are at heightened risk. Also, those who have had multiple pregnancies are more at risk of getting this disease. However, a family history of cervical cancer does not matter.

Doc, what are the various stages of cervical cancer?
There are 4 stages of cervical cancer: Stage 1 where the cancer remains confined to the cervix, Stage 2 where the cancer is extended into the vagina, parametrium and pelvic lymph nodes, Stage 3 where the cancer gets extended up to the pelvic bone and Stage 4 where it spreads to other parts of the body.

How long is the treatment procedure? And can the patient come back to normal life once treated?
Approximately, the entire treatment procedure takes about two months. And once treated, the patient can lead a normal life.

How effective is the cervical cancer vaccine? How popular is the vaccine in India? Who can take it?
 A Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is used as a protection against cervical cancer. It is not very popular in India since there is very little awareness about the vaccine. All women below 18 years of age can take this vaccine.

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