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CERVICAL CANCER-MYTHS AND FACTS

21 Apr, 2022

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Cervical cancer happens when the cells of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus, which connects to the vagina) grow abnormally. Among all other cancer, cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer known to cause cancer-related deaths in women in India. However, there are many cancer hospitals in India offering affordable screening programs and highly advanced treatment. But, with so much information available, it is easy to get confused by some myths about cervical cancer and regular screenings. Here are the top myths you need to stop believing right away and seek help if needed.

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Myth: You need to have a PAP test annually.

Fact: If your HPV and PAP tests are normal, getting a PAP test annually is not required. There are certain guidelines for women to follow, who have gone for PAP and HPV tests previously with normal test results:

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  • Ages 21-29: Get PAP test done every 3 years
  • Ages 30-64: Get PAP test and HPV test done every 5 years
  • Ages 65 and older: Talk to your doctor if you need to continue any test

Myth: HPV infection is not common, and it only affects people who have multiple partners.

Fact: HPV is common in people who have multiple partners; however, it is a widespread infection, affecting many women and men. There are many variants of HPV and more than 40 of which spread quickly by sexual contact. Consult your doctor to know about the vaccination available against it.

Myth: You cannot conceive after having cervical cancer.

Fact: During cervical cancer treatment, many patients undergo a hysterectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the uterus), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to the pelvic area which affect the fertility of the patient. However, now with advanced technology, there are many new treatment options, allowing the doctor to spare patient’s fertility to have babies in the future. Doctors may use assisted reproductive technologies like freezing the eggs and moving the ovaries out of the radiation field surgically to save them from any dangerous effects of radiation therapy.

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Myth: For HPV infection, you do not need any treatment

Fact: Some cases of HPV infection clear up on their own without you even knowing that you were exposed to it. However, in some cases, the infection can persist and may cause serious health issues such as genital warts and many types of cancer and you will need treatment for these.

Myth: Cervical cancer is hereditary

Fact: Cervical cancer is not hereditary and mainly happens due to HPV infection. You can save your kids from HPV infection by getting them vaccinated. Also, ensure to regularly get PAP and HPV tests done if you are too old to get the HPV vaccine. Vaccination is not recommended for everyone with age more than 26 years. For adults ages 27 through 45 years, your doctor can consider discussing vaccination for HPV with people who are most likely to benefit.

Myth: The cause of cancer of the cervix is unknown.

Fact: Most cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus, a sexually transmitted infection.

Myth: Patients who have HPV infection will always develop cervical cancer.

Fact: Currently, there are more than 100 strains present of HPV virus, some of which are low, and some are of high risk for cervical cancer. Usually, our body’s immune system clears the virus itself within two years approximately. However, in a few cases, it remains unclear and leads to abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which one cannot see or feel.

Myth: Screening for cervical cancer is not required if I don’t have any symptoms.

Fact: A screening test is performed to determine if any abnormal changes are happening in the body of the patient who doesn’t have any symptoms. In patients with symptoms, diagnostic tests are done to determine the cause of the symptoms. Initially, abnormal changes in the cell do not lead to symptoms. But these abnormal changes can be detected during the screening test.

Myth: You can prevent cervical cancer.

Fact: It is not possible to prevent cervical cancer. However, with some lifestyle modifications, its risk can be reduced.

  • Human papillomavirus leads to genital warts and cervical cancer; a vaccine against HPV is available. You can take this vaccine after discussing this with your doctor.
  • Try to delay your first sexual intercourse until the late teens or older.
  • Avoid having multiple sexual partners.
  • Prefer using condoms and dental dams to reduce any risk of infection.
  • Avoid having sex with people with multiple partners, especially those infected with genital warts or who show other symptoms.
  • Quit smoking.

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In case you have been diagnosed with cancer, we act as your guide throughout your treatment journey and will be present physically with you even before your treatment is started. We will provide you with the following:

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We are committed to providing the best healthcare services to our patients. We have a team of trained and highly dedicated health experts who will be there by your side right from the beginning of your journey.

Conclusion

Remember, as cervical cancer is a common cancer that affects women, taking preventive measures like periodical screening and getting vaccinated can help women stay out of the reach of this cancer. Connect with our experts to take the best care of your health and avail the most advanced screening programs and treatment!

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