Myths and facts about cervical cancer
New Delhi, Feb 01 (ANI): Among all the cancers affecting women, cervical cancer has emerged as the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in India. Women between 15 and 44 years of age are particularly at risk. There are about 1,22,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually in the country, with 67,500 women succumbing to the disease. "Cervical cancer is mostly caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It is a condition that affects lining of the cervix, or the lower part of the uterus. This cancer develops gradually and becomes full-blown over time," said Bloom IVF Group Head Nandita Palshetkar. HPV infection can spread through sexual or skin-to-skin contact. Though this infection usually goes away on its own over time in most women, in others, it can persist and cause precancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. "Some symptoms of this cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal bleeding after menopause or sex, bleeding or spotting between periods, longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual, other abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during sexual intercourse," Palshetkar added. As with any other disease, there are certain myths associated with cervical cancer as well. # Myth 1: Women without a family history of cervical cancer don't need to get screened. Those without a family history of this condition may also be at risk. This is because HPV infection can spread through sexual contact. It is, thus, important to take preventive measures and get Pap tests done. Myth 2: Pap tests should be done every year. There is no need to get a Pap test every year if this test and the one for HPV are normal. The recommended schedule is once in 3 years in women aged between 21-29; and once every 5 years in women aged between 30-64. # Myth 3: It is not possible to prevent cervical cancer. A Pap test can help determine any kind of changes in cells of the cervix. Once any such change is detected, it is possible to start treatment early and prevent cancer from developing. # Myth 4: Women with no symptoms need not get tested. HPV infections don't show any symptoms in most cases. While there are different types of HPV, some high-risk types are associated with cervical cancer and can go undetected until development of abnormal cells. # Myth 5: Women who have had hysterectomy don't need to get tested. It's imperative to undergo screening for cervical cancer irrespective of whether a woman has had a hysterectomy.