Cervical cancer, which is the second common cancer in the world among women, is the only form of cancer that can be prevented with vaccination. But still most of the women are either not aware of the preventive vaccination or if they know, they don’t approach the doctor due to social constraints.
Dr Daljeet Singh, principal, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), stresses on the awareness about the preventive part of cervical cancer during a scientific session at ‘Adolescon 2014’ that was conducted at Dumra auditorium of DMCH on Saturday.
Dr Singh said, “Cervical cancer is mainly caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. Nearly 27% of the cases of cervical cancer in the world are from India making it more than one fourth of total world. And the pace at which this cancer is increasing, it is estimated that in next 20 years it will share 50% of total cases and deaths due to cervical cancer, despite the fact that this is the only cancer that has a preventive vaccination.”
HPV infection is caused during sexual intercourse. Though there are number of Human Papilloma Viruses, the two that cause cervical cancer are HPV-16 and HPV-18. Nearly 80% of the women always remain exposed to cervical cancer because of this, but as only two HPV are major cause, many remain lucky not to have that virus infection and not getting cancer.
Cervical cancer is a very slow process, thus once a woman gets infection that could convert into cancer after 20-25 years or even later.
Dr Daljeet Singh said, “Vaccinating girls during adolescence could prevent them from cancer. But to mobilise public opinion there is a dire need of educating and creating awareness because talking in Indian society to save girl from the infection caused by sexual intercourse is still a stigma.”
“The appropriate age for vaccination is from nine years, as the injection takes time to act properly. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) recommends two doses of vaccination from nine to 14 years of age. But a girl or woman could get this vaccination anytime up to 45 years of age,” said Dr Daljeet Singh.
Dr Singh said, “This is the time when we need to think towards safe adolescence. So, we should think toward making girls safe from cervical cancer by providing timely vaccination.”