EXCLUSIVE: The importance of getting vaccinated for Cervical Cancer according to a Gynaecologist

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EXCLUSIVE: The importance of getting vaccinated for Cervical Cancer according to a Gynaecologist
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Cervical cancer is ranked as the fourth common cancer all over the world. One of the main risk factors of it is the human papillomavirus. This type of cancer originates in females at the entrance to the womb from the vagina, the cervix. Although the condition is mostly seen in women after 30 years. Currently, you will be shocked to know even girls at a younger age can get cervical cancer. Thus, cervical cancer will not only occur in the sexually active women belonging to the age group of 30-45 but before that too. The reason behind this can be the increasing number of girls have become sexually active at a younger age.
The human papillomavirus can be transmitted during sexual intercourse from one person to another. But this does not suggest that every sexually active woman will get cervical cancer. Did you know? HPV-16 and HPV-18 are known to cause this cancer while abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse, pain during intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pelvic pain are some of the common symptoms of cervical cancer in the advanced stages of the condition. Thus, taking cervical cancer vaccination is the need of the hour, and can save many lives.

Importance of cervical cancer vaccinations
Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely low in India, mainly in rural areas. Women are often shy and do not want to discuss their symptoms openly. Though, the vaccines are available still women are not aware of them. Basically, they are not okay with the idea of taking a vaccination. It is recommended for girls at the age of 9 to make sure that they do not skip the cervical cancer vaccination, and no booster is required. Prevention is possible via HPV vaccination which is routinely advised to girls between 12 and 13 years. The cost of the vaccine is around 3,000 per vaccine, and one will require 3 doses 0, 2- and 6-months Gardasil and Cervarix at 0, 1 and 6 months. Every girl should take a cervical cancer vaccine before she gets sexually active as this can increase her risk of cervical cancer. The benefits of taking vaccination are they act as a shield against cervical cancer by preventing the two strains of HPV like 16 and 18. Many hospitals give vaccination mandatorily after delivery. 
 
Screening about cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is preventable if it is detected at an early stage. Screening tests for cervical cancer that is a Pap smear and HPV test must be advised in every young woman above 25 years, every 3 years or early if sexually active. 

 
Awareness regarding cervical cancer
 
When it comes to awareness regarding cervical cancer in every 10 women only 2 may be aware of it. While speaking about the rural areas, there is a lack of knowledge and education regarding this. This can increase morbidity and mortality as women-only visit the doctors in an advanced stage where saving lives becomes difficult. 
 
For awareness amongst rural area, annual pap smear camps are conducted. Vaccine charges should be made affordable for rural women by Govt health schemes or at least early detection measures like pap smear camps be organized regularly. Thus, to improve the outcome and efficacy, women should be educated at the primary level regarding the condition (in schools) to create awareness about cervical cancer. They should be taught about the benefits of taking a vaccination and ways to prevent this cancer should be discussed. 
 
Health for all women should be given priority.

About the author: Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital Kharghar

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