Cervical Cancer and Screening at Penn Nalam
The three most commonly occurring cancers in India are those of the breast, uterine,cervix and oral cavity. Together they account for approximately 34% of all Cancers and hence are a public health priority in India. All 3 cancers have reliable screening methods, can be picked up early, and treated completely.
India accounts for 7.2% of global cancer incidence, but in terms of cancer deaths, India accounts for 8.3 % of global mortality, highlighting the fact that cancers in India tend to be detected late, leaving little opportunity for effective management and patient survival.
Cervical Cancer is the second most common Cancer in India in women accounting for 22.86% of all cancer cases in women and 12 % of all cancer cases in both men and women. It is the third largest cause of cancer death in India accounting for nearly 10% of all cancer related deaths in the country.
Cervical cancer happens when cells in the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and build up to form a growth or tumour. As the tumor grows , cells can eventually spread to other parts of the body and become life – threatening Cervical cancer has a long natural history meaning it takes many years to go from abnormal cells to cancer. When picked up in the abnormal cell stage, it can be completely treated, preventing cancer development.
The survival chance of a person becomes better if the cervical cancer is detected and treated at earlier stages. Cervical screening helps prevent cervical cancer and save lives from cervical cancer when picked up early.
These are the facts we highlight in our awareness drives, and screening camps.
Of the nearly 17000 women screened about 250-030 % smears were abnormal. These women are called for further testing to the centre where colposcopy and biopsy is done. We have diagnosed ……… cervical cancers , and directed them to the treatment. Now options for affordable surgery is available at Penn Nalam.
During the process of awareness and screening, what we notice often is the fear of getting tests, husbands not comfortable with the wife going for tests , not opening up about symptoms to others for fear of shaming and refusing to come for follow up due to financial constraints , fear and denial.
We have seen some frank cancers where the lady was feeling shy to talk about her symptoms, and assumed it was normal with age, and would not come for biopsy as she was worried about the cost and did not have anyone to bring her for check ups.We worked with the team that organized the camp to convince her to follow up.
Cancer can rarely develop between regular screening tests.so it is important to look out for any symptom that is unusual, especially:
- Bleeding between normal periods, after sex, or after the menopause
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain or discomfort during sex
Seeing a doctor as soon as possible and not waiting for the next cervical screening appointment is important in these situations.
Usually these symptoms won’t mean cancer, but if there is a possibility of cancer, getting it diagnosed and treated early can mean better chances of cure.
The need of the hour is more awareness, especially for women with no regular access to healthcare. These are the women we want to reach through our awareness and screening programmes, in our effort to eradicate cancer!.