Cervical cancer prevention primarily centers around vaccination, regular screenings and lifestyle choices but the shocking news of actor-model Poonam Pandey‘s untimely death this Friday due to cervical cancer, was a wake-up call for women. The most common cause of cervical cancer in Asian countries has been HPV positivity and cervical cancer is the most common cancer among females, not just in the rural population but also among the females in urban population.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Mamatha Shriyan, Consultant – Gynaecology at SRV Hospitals in Mumbai’s Goregaon, shared, “The most effective preventive measure is the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against the main strains of the virus responsible for cervical cancer. It is recommended for all women from ages 9 to 26. Routine screenings, such as pap smears or HPV tests, are essential for early detection of abnormal cell changes, helping to identify precancerous cells and early stage cancers. Pap smears are recommended every 3 years starting at the age of 21 until 65.”
She advised, “Promoting safe sexual practices is another crucial aspect of cervical cancer prevention. Consistent condom use can reduce the risk of HPV transmission. Although individuals who are sexually active with only one partner can still contract the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer, the risk can be reduced by remaining monogamous. Smoking is another significant risk factor for cervical cancer. Toxins in tobacco smoke can weaken the body’s immune system and damage cellular DNA, both of which can contribute to cancer growth. Quitting smoking can significantly decrease the chances of developing cervical cancer and improve overall health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and a healthy weight can also contribute to lowering the risk of cervical cancer.”
Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Sonia Golani, Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Bhailal Amin General Hospital, said, “Cancer of Cervix (cervix is the lower part of uterus which connects to vagina) is the second leading cancer in women after Cancer of Breast. Most cervical cancers are caused by a virus HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) which is passed through sexual contact. Both lifestyle changes and preventive screening can help to decrease the incidence of Cervical cancer.”
She recommended the following lifestyle changes that can help to prevent cervical cancer:
1. Maintaining a healthy weight
2. Dietary recommendations are lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains
3. Avoid processed food, refined carbohydrates, fats, red meat
4. Limit Alcohol consumption.
5. Be physically active – 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week
6. Don’t have unprotected sex – Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases
7. Restrict the number of sexual partners
8. Limiting the number of deliveries
9. Avoid smoking
10. Delay the age of first sexual intercourse
According to her, HPV Vaccine (Human Papilloma Virus vaccine) decreases the risk of developing Cervical cancer. Vaccination should begin in girls 9 years onwards where 2 doses are sufficent till 13 years.
- After 13 years, 3 doses of the vaccine is required
- Should be given ideally before sexual debut up to 23 years of age
- 23 years to 45 years can be given but effectivity is not so good
- Contact your gynaecologist for further details and dose schedule.
Talking about pap smear test, Dr Sonia Golani said, “This is a good screening test for early detection of cervical cancel – It can identify precancerous lesion 5-10 yr before onset of malignancy. Simple test that is done on OPD basis. The gynaecologist takes a scrape of the cervix and sends it to the laboratory for study of cells. Cervical cancer can start at age of 30 years and continue every 2-3 years up to the age of 65 уears. So to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, maintain and eat healthy diet, ask your doctor about HPV vaccination, do routine pap smear, practice safe sex and quit smoking.”
Cautioning that there is a greater risk of development of cervical cancer, Dr Pritam Kataria, Consultant Medical Oncology at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said, “The screening for cervical cancers are very easier and it is by doing the pap smear testing and by doing the pap smear testing, it is possible that we can look at whether there is an HPV infection, which is already there, or there is some changes in the mucosa or the lining of the cervix and help us to diagnose the cervical cancer very early. Early screenings help us to diagnose the cervical cancer at an earlier age and help us to cure the cancer completely and if we are able to vaccinate the children between the age of 9 years to 22 years among the females, or before attainment of sexual activity, in that situation, we can give this vaccination and prevent them getting infected with human papillomavirus.”
He added, “We can avoid the major chunk of population from getting the cervical cancer. There are two vaccines available, which are Glydacin and Sarvalin, for carcinoma suffix prevention, and both of these vaccines can be given by the gynecologist. There are two vaccines available, which are Glydacin and Sarvalin, for carcinoma suffix prevention, and both of these vaccines can be given by the gynecologist and it can be administered to the boys also and can help in prevention of the pre-cancerous conditions or carcinoma of penis among the males. Lifestyle changes are important in prevention of cervical cancer. One of the ways is by vaccinating the girls between the age 9 to 22 years. Second is having good amount of fruits and vegetables, fresh fruits and vegetables and third is daily exercises is something that is important. So by taking into account all these lifestyle changes and also prevention of smoking. If the smoking is prevented then that is also one of the positive factors for cervical cancer and it can be prevented by quitting smoking. These lifestyle changes will help us to prevent the cervical cancer in future.”