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Adopt These Healthy And Safe Practices to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Here are simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent cervical cancer

Published: January 31, 2022 8:20 AM IST

By Lifestyle Staff | Edited by Anjali Thakur

Adopt These Healthy And Safe Practices to Prevent Cervical Cancer
Representational Image (Picture credit: Pixabay)

Cervical Cancer is the Cancer of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. In India, Cervical Cancer contributes to 6 – 29% of all cancers in women. As per WHO statistics, 45,300 Indian women died of Cervical Cancer in 2019. This is devastating as the Cervix (lower end of the uterus) is an organ that can be easily seen screened and tested. In today’s era of HPV vaccines, affordable & effective methods for early detection like Pap Tests, diagnosis and treatment of Cervical Cancer lesions continues to be a burden on public health.

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The major reasons for Cervical Cancer are – early age of sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, unprotected intercourse, smoking, socioeconomic factors, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV that induce Cervical Cancer. The most oncogenic strain is HPV16 and HPV 18 which is more likely to be found in the central part of India.

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Following are simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent cervical cancer:

  • By delaying the first sexual encounter until late teens or later, and limiting your sexual partners
  • Having a monogamous committed relationship and using a condom to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
  • Avoid sexual intercourse with people who have multiple partners
  • Avoid sexual intercourse with people infected with genital warts or have symptoms of STIs
  • Always use a condom
  • Indulge in good hygiene practices
  • Postpone first pregnancy
  • Stop smoking and alcohol consumption

Apart from this, regular doctor visits, screening and consultation is important. Below mentioned are some of the important tests and vaccines to prevent & diagnose Cervical Cancer at an early stage:

  • HPV vaccine – It is available for the prevention of HPV infection which is the most important risk factor for Cervical Cancer. HPV16 and HPV18 are most frequently associated with Cervical Cancer. The vaccine (in 3 doses) is recommended among girls in the age group 9 to 45yrs, preferably before they turn sexually active. Talk to your Gynecologist to understand this vaccination better.
  • HPV test – Cells from the Cervix are tested for strains of HPV DNA most linked to Cervical Cancer. This test can be used as a screening test for Cervical Cancer once every 5years (as per American Cancer Society)
  • Papanicolaou Test/ Pap Test – Cells from the Cervix are collected using a simple spatula & brush and checked by a pathologist for abnormalities. This test can detect pre-Cancer and Cancer microscopically even before it is visible to the naked eye. This test can be done once in 3yrs in sexually active women. The test cannot be done during menstruation. Do not use any douche, lubricants, or creams before the test
  • Colposcopy – Cervix is visualized by applying dyes and using a Colposcope to detect abnormal areas on the Cervix. This test can only be done on the recommendation of the Gynecologist.

In addition to this, importance of healthy lifestyle practices like following a good diet, exercise, and improvement of immunity needs to be stressed. Cervical Cancer can be diagnosed and cured successfully only if diagnosed at an early stage. Women today tend to neglect their health while balancing work and family; taking care of your own health and looking at the changes & signs the body shows is what will help you survive and avoid Cervical Cancer. Take charge of your health now!

(Inputs by Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant-Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund)   

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Published Date: January 31, 2022 8:20 AM IST