Importance of cervical cancer vaccination and prevention

Cervical cancer is unquestionably a highly curable type of cancer, especially when it is in the early stages. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the agent responsible for the disease. During the reproductive years, many women may become infected with HPV, but the infection is typically treatable. Over the course of 15 to 20 years, people who have been exposed to a high risk oncogenic subtype of this virus may develop dysplasia, a precancerous condition that, if untreated, can develop into cancer.

Risk factors of cervical cancer

Although, cervical cancer can also strike women who engage in monogamous sexual behavior, women who have multiple sexual partners are more likely to have this disease. Cervical cancer is more common in women aged 30-60 years and is rare in women younger than 20 years. The use of cigarettes, poor intimate hygiene, and immune impairment brought on by HIV infection can all be contributory factors. Good genital hygiene, the use of condoms to prevent STDs, a diet rich in fruits and salads and quitting smoking are all lifestyle modifications that can greatly reduce the risk of developing this gynaecological cancer.

The importance of cervical cancer vaccination and prevention

The HPV vaccine, given at a young age, prior to onset of sexual activity, is the most efficient strategy to prevent cervical cancer. Vaccination given to females between the ages of 9 and 15 can lower the occurrence of precancerous lesions and cancer. Girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should still get it till they are 26 years old. To achieve the maximum potential protection, everyone should make sure to get the full set of two or three doses. In order to decide whether or not this vaccine is right for you or your kid, it is crucial to speak with your doctor.

Long-lasting protection against cervical cancer is provided by the vaccination, which is simple and painless to give. It is crucial for all young women to get vaccinated against the HPV virus since the virus can also lead to other cancers, such anal cancer and cancers of the head & neck region.

How vaccination prevents cancer development?

The vaccine stimulates an immune response by introducing minute quantities of viral proteins into the body. As a result, the body produces antibodies that will defend against the particular subtypes of HPV viruses which are the causative agent of cervix cancer. It is important to know that the vaccine does not prevent infections from all the sub types of HPV, so routine PAP exams and screenings are necessary even in vaccinated individuals. Women should be encouraged to get cervical cancer vaccinations because they are effective, safe and widely accessible in India.

What are the ways to detect cervical cancer

The detection of cervical cancer may take longer than expected. This could be as a result of the absence of symptoms in the early and precancerous stages. Since getting the practice of routine screening checkups is not adhered to in our country, routinely the disease is discovered and diagnosed at an advanced stage. Because of this, it's critical for women to get regular checks, even if no symptoms manifest. Yet, a few of the initial signs could be:

  • Vaginal bleeding in between menstrual cycles.
  • Bleeding during or after Intercourse.
  • Bleeding after menopause.
  • Prolonged vaginal discharge that is stained with blood and is foul smelling.
  • Persistent lower back pain.

In order to detect the disease early, all sexually active women over 21 years should get a pap smear every three years or more frequently if possible.

Dr. Abhishek Gullia
Additional Director
Department of Radiation Oncology
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