Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer in women in India after Breast cancer. India has a population of 453.02 millions women ages 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Recent Report in 2017 submitted by ICO HPV Information Centre projects every year 122844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67477 die from the disease.
What causes Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is caused due to the infection of the Human papillomavirus (HPV).
This infection is due to sexual contact. All Sexually active women contract HPV at some time in their lifetime but most will never even know it, since it causes no symptom. The body has the power to clear HPV infection on its own and the terminal cells return to normal.
Risk or Chances of HPV infections increase in women who
- Increased number of sexual partners
- More Sexually active women around the age of 20- 24 most likely to be infected
- Women active with single partner but the partner has multiple other partners
- Who smoke
- Women who have been on birth-control pills for long
- HIV positive or have a compromised immune system.
Precautions & Preventions for HPV infection
The cancer does not come suddenly. The virus will cause slow abnormal cell changes and eventually can progress to cancer. Hence, it is important to catch the infection when the precancerous changes take place, so that treatment can result in cure.
- Regular PAP Smears either conventional or HPV DNA Pap cytology is extremely important for all sexually active girls and women above 30 years of age. The Pap test can find abnormal cells on the cervix so that they can be removed before cancer develops. Abnormal cells often become normal over time, but can sometimes turn into cancer. These cells can usually be treated, depending on their severity and on the woman’s age, past medical history, and other test results
- Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus: The World Health Organization recommends the vaccine for all girls between 9 and 13 years, because the vaccine is highly immunogenic at this age. Only two doses of the vaccine administered at a 6 to 12 month interval are enough to protect girls under 15 years of age. Girls/women 15 years of age and older, as well as those who are immuno-compromised, e.g., living with HIV, require 3 doses.
Females who are sexually active may also benefit from vaccination, but the protection rate may be less as they may have already been exposed to one or more of the HPV types targeted by the vaccines.
FDA has approved three vaccines (Cervarix, Gardasil and Gardasil 9) to prevent HPV infection.
Cost of HPV vaccine in India are approx Rs 6000 for three doses of Cervarix and approx. Rs 8400 for Gardasil.