Cervical cancer awareness: Experts debunk myths Health

Cervical Cancer Awareness: The month of January is known as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month as it helps in creating awareness about the disease, possible ways to contract it and early stages of its diagnosis. Cervical cancer develops in cells of the uterus – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Common symptoms of cervical cancer are bleeding between periods and after intercourse. Lower abdominal pain and lower back pain can also indicate cervical cancer. However, in some people, cervical cancer does not show any symptoms in its early stages. As we look at January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding it, and debunk them:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Monisha Gupta, Senior Consultant, Gyane Oncology, Fortis Shalimar Bagh, helped us dispel some myths:

Also Read: Cervical Cancer Awareness: How To Reduce Your Risk Of Developing This Cancer

Myth: There is no specific cause of cervical cancer

Actually: We have one very known cause of cervical cancer and that is human papillomavirus, HPV infection.

Myth: HPV only affects people with multiple sexual partners or unprotected sex.

Actually: HPV infection occurs in every sexually active male and female partner. About 80% of men and women are infected with HPV at any one time. Sexual transmission of HPV infection between men and women occurs regularly.

Myth: Cervical cancer is hereditary.

Actually: No. Cervical cancer is not hereditary like breast and uterine cancer.

Myth: Having an HPV infection means I will get cervical cancer.

Actually: No, there are over 100 strains of the HPV virus, but only 9-10 strains are known to cause cancer. Furthermore, most HPV infections are cleared from our bodies within 2 years due to our immune system.

Myth: A screening test is not needed if symptoms are not present.

ActuallyCervical cancer has no symptoms in most women in its early stages. And when symptoms appear, it’s usually stage II/III. So, it is very important to go for regular screening test for early detection.

Myth: Cervical cancer screening should be done annually.

Actually: The ideal protocol for cervical cancer screening is a 3-year Pap smear test in women younger than 30 years and a 5-year Pap+ HPV test in women older than 30 years until age 65 years.

Myth: Why you should go for the HPV vaccine

ActuallySince cervical cancer is caused by viral infection, it can be prevented by vaccination like polio, typhoid and other diseases.

Dr. Tejinder Kataria, Chairman, Radiation Oncology & Cancer Centre, Medanta – The Medicity, helped us debunk some myths related to cervical cancer:

Myth: Cervical cancer is contagious

Actually: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection of the genital area and can be sexually transmitted.

Myth: HPV infection cannot be eradicated

Actually: HPV infection can occur once in the lifetime of sexually active women and the vast majority of women clear the infection from their system over time with the help of a healthy immune system.

Myth: Cervical cancer is fatal

Actually: Women with cervical cancer stage 0-1A are cured in 93-95% of cases. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the cure rate.

Myth: A positive test for HPV means cancer

Actually: Most women with a good immune system will clear HPV infection so HPV infection does not necessarily mean cancer will occur.

Myth: A PAP smear test may not screen all women for cancer

Actually: The PAP smear test is only diagnostic for cervical cancer and does not rule out breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

Myth: HPV infection occurs only in girls

Actually: HPV infection can occur in both men and women. In men it may appear as genital warts or develop rectal/oropharyngeal cancer.

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