Cervical Cancer Prevention: From Vaccination To Safe Sex, How To Reduce The Risk Of This HPV-Induced Disease

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects cells in the cervix of women. According to statistics, about one woman dies from cervical cancer every eight minutes in India. Cervical cancer can have long-term health effects and even be fatal if prompt treatment is not provided. Ninety-nine percent of cervical cancers are caused by strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection affecting the body. This sexually transmitted infection is responsible for the most cases of cervical cancer in women. When our immune system is unable to stop the virus from attacking the body, we can develop cervical cancer. There are two types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. HPV can survive in your body for years, contributing to the process that causes certain cells in the brain to turn into cancer cells.

Here are some ways to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer:

Early detection

You should get screened for cervical cancer from time to time as suggested by your GP. Early screening makes it easier to diagnose cervical cancer and also helps doctors start treatment earlier. If you do not have any abnormal symptoms, you are advised to get tested at different time intervals depending on your age. For example, women aged 25-49 are advised to get tested every 3 years, while women aged 50-64 are advised to get tested every 5 years. You must get tested even if you are vaccinated against cervical cancer.

Drink and smoke

People who smoke and drink are at greater risk of getting infected with HPV. Quitting smoking allows your body to get rid of the HPV infection sooner and even prevents it from turning into cancer. If you smoke a lot, you may want to join programs that will help you quit this bad habit. Doctors may also prescribe medical treatment for you to help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Vaccination

There are many types of cervical cancer vaccines. However, in India a quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil ™) and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix ™) are used. Made by recombinant DNA technology which produces non-infectious VLPs comprising the HPV L1 protein, may be one of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer.

Safe sex

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the main causes of cervical cancer, and HPV is known to spread mainly through unprotected sex. Make sure to avoid unprotected sex and always use a condom to reduce your risk of developing the infection. Remember, not just through sexual penetration, but the virus can be transmitted through any type of skin-to-skin contact between the genitals. It can also be spread by mouth or anal.

A Lancet study indicates that cervical cancer may no longer be a public health problem in India over the next sixty years. If existing prevention programs are made more easily accessible, chances are that we no longer live under the burden of this disease.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on September 16, 2019 at 11:39 a.m. IST. For more info and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment, and style of life, connect to our website latestly.com).

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