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Aware & safe

Increased awareness can prevent spread of cervical cancer.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 12, 2010 01:26 IST
Himadree

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the world and a large number of Indian women are being diagnosed with the disease. The Asia Oceania research organization on Genital Infections and Neoplasia (AOGIN), Women Against Cervical Cancer (WACC) and women’s health magazine, Prevention, have recently started a drive to spread awareness about cervical cancer.

What is cervical cancer?
It is a cancer in the cervix or the uterus region. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is passed on by genital contacts. Sexually active women with multiple sexual partners are at a higher risk of contracting it. “But a woman may even get it from a partner who has had more than one active sexual partner,” says Dr Neerja Bhatla, additional professor, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, AIIMS.

Detection
HPV test (Rs 1,000-1,500) and the Pap Smear Test (Rs 100-150) can help detect cervical cancer. A pap test helps detect the cancer at an early stage through abnormalities in the cervical cells. But it is better if you get both the tests done. Dr Bhatla suggests a woman to go in for the Pap and the HPV test three years after she had her first intercourse. “And then later she should get it done in every two years.”

Symptoms
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom. Be alert if you bleed after sexual intercourse; it might be bleeding after your regular menstrual cycle or heavy spotting between two menstrual cycle.
If you have had a painful intercourse or pain after it.
Heavy vaginal discharge. It varies from women to women.
Pain while passing urine.
Pain in the pelvic region.

Prevention
There are vaccinations available in the market today that can prevent cervical cancer. But its advisable to see a doctor if you’re detected with the cancerous cell.