As I have detailed in my previous blog The truth about Cervical Cancer #1, cervical cancer is a type of sexually transmitted but non communicable disease. That means it is caused due to sexual activity and spread of HPV virus but once you get the disease you cannot transmit it to somebody else. So, those who serve such patients are not at risk and neither are the people who live with them at home.
I had promised to answer the questions that come to your mind when you read such information. I shall attempt to answer some of the queries. The first query was :
How does this concern me?
The lifetime risk of cervical cancer if no screening or treatment is done is very high. So, irrespective of race, nationality, community, marital status, social status, or financial status, and whether you live in a village or in a city, you have equal chances of contracting the infection and subsequently getting the disease.
So, whoever you are, where ever you are, if you have ever been sexually active, you need to be screened. Any lesion found need to be treated and followed up. So it concerns everybody. Each one of us needs to be screened, at least after the age of 30 years and at least once every 5 years. If HPV HC2 is the method of screening. Pap-smears need to be done at least once every year to detect disease. If HPV-HC2 and colposcopy are both done, the screening interval can be increased to to up to seven years.
Second question is:
Only a few people get the disease, so why should I think that I will get it?
As mentioned above, any one can get the disease unless screened appropriately. The incidence is as high as 30 per lac to 400 per lac in various parts of India as is coming out where population based screening is being done. Also it kills one woman every 8 minutes in India, and every 4 minutes some woman somewhere in the country is told – “You have cervical cancer”. That woman could be you, or your relative if not screened.
Am I at risk?
If you are a woman and have got over the denial phase that “I cannot get it”, then this is the next question that must come to your mind. If you have ever been sexually active, you could be at risk. That is the one and only condition. So, get screened ASAP.
What do I do to mitigate my risk?
As previously mentioned, get screened. Best is HPV-HC2 + LBC (Liquid Based Cytology) if available. Otherwise a Pap-smear annually with a good gynaec examination after application of acetic acid. Colposcopy needs to be done if indicated.
Any lesion found need to be treated and followed up.
Hysterectomy ( removal of uterus) is not an option for treatment of cervical lesions most of the time.
Am I really healthy? Or am I harbouring something?
You will never know unless you get screened.
What do I do now? Whom do I consult?
I have experience of screening and treatment of cervical lesions including erosions, ulcers, infections, HPV, CIN (commonly referred as pre-cancer) of more than 14 years. You can also consult any gynaecologist but beware of being advised hysterectomy for cervical lesions.
You can save your uterus and also keep it safe and healthy by colposcopy and LEEP-LLETZ or Cautery as indicated. You can always contact us for the same in case of doubt.
Am I safe? Are my loved ones safe?
Screening will keep you safe. If you have the disease, or its precursors, they can be adequately treated. As it is not a communicable disease, your loved ones are safe. If you have a teenage girl in the family, get her vaccinated for HPV.
I shall be discussing HPV Vaccination in my next blog in the series.
Comments and queries are welcome!
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