Depicting a grim picture of cervical cancer prevalence among Indian women, experts from Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai, have claimed that every eight minutes a woman dies due to this type of cancer in the country.
One out of four women who died of cervical cancer in world belonged to India.
Presenting these facts at a continuous medical education (CME) on cancer prevention, early detection and treatment in Sangrur on Saturday, Dr Amita Maheshwari, professor of gynecology and oncology at TMH, said cervical cancer was most common type of cancer found among women in both rural and urban areas.
It is the cancer of the mouth of the uterus -- the uterine cervix and generally occurs because of a viral infection, caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
"It was a sorry state of affairs that despite such high prevalence of cervical cancer, only 2.55% women across India go through the screening tests," Dr Amita said.
"The proper awareness and immunisation at the onset of sexual activity of adolescent girls in 9-16 year age group will be very helpful in controlling the cancer. Moreover, ANMs and ASHA workers should be acquainted with basic screening steps to timely guide women living in rural areas for further investigation," she said.
Notably, marriage and first child at a very young age, multiple child births, multiple sexual partners, poor hygiene and vitamin deficiency remained main cause of cervical cancer, she said.
Dr Atul Budukh, assistant professor in epidemiology, said early detection and proper treatment is very important in cervical cancer, but the problem was that most of women approach doctors at later stages.
"The biggest problem in our country was that 50-60% cancer patients failed to complete treatment and died due to lack of availability of cancer prevention and early detection technique. We were basically focusing on treatment and diagnosis part, but very less attention was being paid towards the prevention of the disease," he said.
Cancer registry programme to start in Sangrur, Mansa
After the state government carried out door-to-door cancer surveys, TMH in collaboration with Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, will start a population-based cancer registry in Sangrur, Mansa, SAS Nagar and Chandigarh for proper documentation of cancer patients.
"We are going to organise population-based cancer registry to get proper record of cancer patients, including cancer incidence and mortality, besides getting information regarding types of cancers prevailing in the region," he said.
"Cancer registry will help us know what resources and infrastructure we need for cancer control programme in the state," he said.
Dr Atul added that a survey conducted by the Punjab government might help in their project, but it lacks quality check.
Meanwhile, TMH is also going to set up simple radiotherapy centre at the Sangrur civil hospital, which would act as boon for cancer patients of the Malwa region.
T Anbumani, project consultant; Dr Bhawna Sirohi, medical oncologist; Dr Tejinder Singh Bahl, assistant director, cancer control cell, Punjab; civil surgeon Dr HS Bali and district health officer Dr Surinder Singla also spoke on the occasion.